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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Class in the Grass at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Region 3, October 22, 2012

School was in session both in the classrooms and at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge from September 17 to the 28, 2012. Normally, Swan Lake Refuge host Wetland Tours each fall, where students in fifth through seventh grade go out in waders and explore the wetlands at the refuge. Things switched this year. Instead of donning waders and getting wet and mucky, students put on their walking boots and explored the grasslands and fields of the refuge in the first ever Grassland Tours. Nine schools participated in the tours with 405 students attending.

The students learned about various species that can be found in Missouri grasslands, the ecosystem itself, and the food webs and interactions that happen in grasslands. They also participated in educational games and activities, such as a grassland version of “Duck Duck Goose” and a string food web activity. Each tour finished at the Prairie Grass maze. Students were set loose to wander their way through the maze while trying to find and answer 13 questions hidden within its depths. At the end of each tour, students had learned about the natural world, teachers got their classes out of the buildings and in the sun, and Swan Lake Refuge spread the word about the refuge and the importance of the nature and wildlife within its grasslands.

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov