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For Educators

Students investigating the wetland environmentFor more information on use of the visitor center for classes or meetings, or to schedule a visit to the refuge, please contact:

Ashley Danielson or Barb Nielsen
at 712-388-4800

by email at or

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge provides many opportunities for learning. Through environmental education programs, students meet curriculum goals while connecting with nature. 

Bertrand Educational Opportunities

Sunk on April 1, 1865, the steamboat Bertrand was lost to the ages until she was rediscovered nearly a century later within the boundaries of the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. Over 250,000 artifacts were uncovered, many of them were rare and well preserved items found at few other archaeological sites: Wooden tools, metal objects, textiles, and foodstuffs, just to name a few. This steamboat Bertrand collection is vital to our understanding of Civil War-era material culture, and a treasure to be admired and appreciated for many years to come. 

A variety of education opportunities are being offered to area schools to coincide with the anniversary.  See below for full details. 

 Field Trip to the Steamboat Bertrand Museum at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge: 

(Four bus scholarships available to Omaha Public Schools or Council Bluffs Public Schools)

Students will have a chance to visit DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and the steamboat Bertrand museum to complete a variety of activities.  Field trips will be tailored for each school’s needs, and can support curriculum in science, history and language arts.  Dates available in April and May.  

Contact Ashley Danielson at (712) 388-4820 or

 Steamboat Bertrand and DeSoto Visitor Center Self-Guided Curriculum: 

A new self-guided curriculum packet is available to help guide students on an educational visit through the DeSoto Visitor Center.  Make connections with our natural and cultural history by learning the stories of western expansion, wildlife conservation and the impact of settlement on the wildlife of the Missouri River Valley. 

To view the curriculum, click here.

Curator–led Assemblies:

Invite our museum curator to your school for a fun, 45 minute assembly on the steamboat Bertrand collection.  This interactive assembly will include an artifact show-and-tell and informative power point.  Dates available in April and May. 

Contact Ashley Danielson at (712) 388-4820 or

Steamboat Bertrand Anniversary Commemoration:

The public is invited to commemorate the anniversary of the sinking of the steamboat Bertrand at a three day celebration on March 27-29.  For more details, visit our website:


(712) 388-4820 or

Ongoing Educational Opportunities

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge partners with the Blair Community School District (NE) and students make repeat visits to the refuge each year. They explore the refuge through the seasons and learn more about the wildlife in their own backyard.  The refuge also partners with Edison Elementary in Omaha for 6th grade students and West Harrison 3rd and 5th grade classes for a yearlong Refuge experience.  These partnership include school visits by rangers and field trips to the refuge. 

See the Blair Community Schools/DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge Outdoor Education Partnership Curriculum Guide for lesson ideas for your own classes.  LARGE FILE. It may taken longer than usual to download.

Other are schools are also served for single visit field trips to the refuge that are facilitated with activity guides and other assistance from refuge staff.  See our Educator Information Guide for more details.  

Activity Sheets:
Activity Sheet- Upper Elementary 
Key- Upper Elementary 
Activity Sheet- Middle School 
Key- Middle School

For more information or to schedule a visit to the refuge, please contact Ashley Danielson or Barb Nielsen at 712-388-4800 or by email at or



Last Updated: Feb 14, 2015
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