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Fish, Families and Outdoor Fun at First Fridays at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Midwest Region, August 7, 2012
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75th Anniversary Staff Photo of current and previous employees who have served at Swan Lake NWR that were present at the August 3 2012 First Fridays at the Refuge Event.

Names followed by years they served at Swan Lake NWR:

Kneeling, L to R:  Alex Foster 2012, Paige McHugh 2012, Rachel Burstert 2010
Standing L to R: Phil Woodward 2009, Ervin Windsor 1974-79. Don Fosse 1978, Bob Christenson 1938-39, Larry L Lentz 1956-59, Marv Lentz 1947-76, Lance Cahill 2012, Molly Comstock 1997-2001, Haden Heussner 2012, AnnMarie Krmpotich 2008-10, Levi  Miller 1980-2009, Steve Whitson 2007-present, John Benson 2008-present, Shane Miller, 2008-present, Ken Schimp 2011-present, and Caroline Ward 2012-present
75th Anniversary Staff Photo of current and previous employees who have served at Swan Lake NWR that were present at the August 3 2012 First Fridays at the Refuge Event. Names followed by years they served at Swan Lake NWR: Kneeling, L to R: Alex Foster 2012, Paige McHugh 2012, Rachel Burstert 2010 Standing L to R: Phil Woodward 2009, Ervin Windsor 1974-79. Don Fosse 1978, Bob Christenson 1938-39, Larry L Lentz 1956-59, Marv Lentz 1947-76, Lance Cahill 2012, Molly Comstock 1997-2001, Haden Heussner 2012, AnnMarie Krmpotich 2008-10, Levi Miller 1980-2009, Steve Whitson 2007-present, John Benson 2008-present, Shane Miller, 2008-present, Ken Schimp 2011-present, and Caroline Ward 2012-present - Photo Credit: USFWS
Two Young Children Find Their Way Through the Prairie Grass Maze
Two Young Children Find Their Way Through the Prairie Grass Maze - Photo Credit: USFWS

After weeks of triple-digit temperatures, it finally cooled off just in time for Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuges First Fridays at the Refuge event on August 3, 2012. Swan Lake welcomed more than 560 people for this year’s final First Fridays program. The Friends of Swan Lake supplied plenty of catfish for an enjoyable fish fry to those who came out on this early August evening. Various organizations and individuals graciously donated almost 40 auction items for people to bid on in a Silent Auction at the Friends Gift Shop. The goal of the free-will donation Catfish Fry and Silent Auction was to raise money for next year’s First Fridays events, which are funded by the Friends of Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge!

 

For those who were not interested in eating fish, the Chariton County Farm Bureau provided free hotdogs and drinks. There were many other activities going on as well. The tractor-drawn hayrides were packed all evening provided tours of refuge wetlands that with the current drought are the only wetlands around with water. The hands-on interpretive Stream Box was, as usual, very popular. Kids and adults alike crowded around the turtle tank to touch the pond sliders and take a look at the snapping turtle. After that, they could wander across the field and test their duck identification skills at the Duck ID station, complete with life like duck decoys, field guides, and scopes. A big attraction was the prairie grass maze that weaved through the six foot-tall native prairie grass unit near the visitor center.

Parents and their children had fun trying to find their way out of the intricate maze, sometimes getting lost and hitting dead ends but having fun all the same. Visitors also had the chance to relax in the amphitheatre and listen to the Currey Korn Family Band play for the last event of the summer. As a special treat, the refuge had a caricature artist in attendance, and he was busy drawing portraits all night long preserving First Fridays at the Refuge memories at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge!

The main amphitheatre attractions for the night started around 7:30 p.m. with a Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge 75th Anniversary photo of all past and present employees of the refuge that were able to make it to the program. It was wonderful to have past employees return to the refuge for the big event! There were 19 current and past employees present for the photo. Bob Christenson of Chillicothe won the award for earliest employee working at Swan Lake. Bob worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938-1939, just a year after the refuge was established in 1937. AnnMarie Krmpotich won the award for past employee traveling the farthest to attend as she is currently employed at Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge in northern Iowa. Marv Lentz and Levi Miller won the award for longest tenured employees present with each having 29 years of service at Swan Lake. The 19 employees present were given Swan Lake 75th Anniversary patches courtesy of the Friends of Swan Lake.

Following the photo, Debbie Peel charmed the crowd as Laura Ingalls Wilder, the historic heroine from the Little House on the Prairie book series. She spoke to the audience about how life was for Laura back in the days of the settlers and Westward expansion. She talked about the native tall grass prairies that her family saw on the journeys westward much like the grass maze most of the kids had wandered through earlier in the evening. In a summer full of “First Fridays at the Refuge” events, this was the busiest and most successful event by far!


Contact Info: Steve Whitson, 660-856-3323 ext. 13, steve_whitson@fws.gov



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