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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Area Eighth Grade Students Spend a Day at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Region 3, May 7, 2013
Students Go For A Canoe Ride
Students Go For A Canoe Ride - Photo Credit: n/a

After four inches of snow on Friday May 3, the following Tuesday turned out to be a sunny, warm, and beautiful day at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Sumner, Mo. The perfect day for more than 10 different schools to bring their eighth grade classes out to the refuge for the Eighth Annual Grade Outdoors Day. Schools included Brunswick, Bishop Hogan Memorial School, Chula, Tina-Avalon, Atlanta C-3, Higbee R-8, Callao C-8, Southwest R-I, Hale, and even a group of home-schooled students. There were 186 students all told, that spent the day learning and having fun at Swan Lake Refuge.

The event began at 9:00 a.m. when classes went to stations where they learned about various things via hands-on activities, displays, and demonstrations. Al Crego led the Bees and Pollinators station, which featured the new pollinator exhibit in the visitor center and pollinator gardens outside the visitor center. The Grand River Audubon Society was at the observation deck, where they had bird identification lessons and spotting scopes out for students to use. The United Bowhunters of Missouri and the Missouri Trappers Association both had booths on their respective trades, where students and teachers alike could either shoot bows at targets on hay bales or set traps. Missouri Department of Conservation agents came with firearms that students could use to shoot clay pigeons that they launched at the skeet shooting station. 

There was also a dog retrieval station where groups could watch as Bryan Anderson sent out his trained dogs to fetch targets that were launched out into Swan Lake. A few Ecological Services employees came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Columbia, Mo. to do a reptile talk, complete with Painted Turtles, Red-eared Sliders, and a Speckled Kingsnake that students and teachers could touch or hold. 

The observation tower was open for students to climb and look out over the refuge, and there were also canoes that they could take out on the small pond near the office. Groups went from station to station until the lunch break. Immediately following that, Dan Cowell from Animal Wonders took the stage in the amphitheatre as the main presenter to discuss wild animals that are threatened or endangered and how wild animals do not make good pets or belong in captivity. While his parrot Oscar got a little stage fright and didn’t want to talk, his alligator and other creatures were all big hits, and after the presentation, people could come up to get a closer look at his animals.

School groups were going from station to station all day and enjoying the chance to have class outside where they could pet turtles, shoot skeet, take a canoe out, or set a trap. The staff and approximately 18 volunteers at the event also had fun sharing their knowledge and expertise with the 8th graders and helping them develop new skills. Overall it was a successful event that Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge looks forward to continuing in the future!

Learn more about our refuge by visiting us online: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/swan_lake/.

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