Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Eldon High School has Earth Day field trip on the Missouri River
Midwest Region, April 15, 2008
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A sunny day in April provided a great setting for an outdoor education day on the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (NFWR) for high school students from Eldon, Mo.  Columbia NFWCO fishery biologist Andy Starostka spent the morning talking with the advanced biology class and biology club students about large river systems, specifically the Missouri River, as part of an Earth Day field trip.  Thirty students and instructors broke up into groups to attend presentations by Starostka, Tim Haller and Wedge Watkins, both from Big Muddy NFWR, and staff from Missouri River Relief, a non-profit organization that promotes river education and cleanup projects on the Missouri River.  Tim Haller, park ranger for Big Muddy NFWR discussed ecology of turtles and other animals which make the refuge their home.  Biologist Wedge Watkins gave a presentation on butterflies and other insects found on the refuge. Missouri River Relief discussed aquatic invertebrates and had preserved examples on hand.  They also discussed upcoming Missouri River clean up projects.


Starostka discussed fisheries work by Columbia NFWCO centered on sturgeon and habitat alterations to the river to meet human needs, persistent environmental contaminants and pharmaceuticals in the environment and commercial harvest of shovelnose sturgeon for caviar.  Live sturgeon were on display to show students these unique and ancient fish.  The live shovelnose sturgeon were a big hit because few of the students had ever seen or touched one.  One brave girl wanted to hold the fish when all of her classmates were afraid of the ancient looking creature. 


Opportunities such as this are great for future generations of biologists.  These high school students were already taking college level biology, indicating their interest in the field at a young age.  A few expressed interest in a career in the field of natural resources, while some just enjoyed being outside in the spring air.  Partnering with the Big Muddy NFWR for outreach and education events, such as this, are the perfect opportunity to introduce young adults to the natural resource field.  The Columbia NFWCO is committed to maintaining the Strategic Vision’s quest for partnerships in aquatic resources education.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges that providing awareness and educating others remains crucial to our efforts to conserve, protect and enhance our nation’s aquatic resources.  Many of the students were interested in the life history of river fishes and our monitoring efforts on the Missouri River. The students were encouraged to volunteer with us or other natural resources agencies to gain first-hand exposure and experience. Our collaborative effort with Big Muddy NFWR and non-governmental organizations demonstrates our commitment to develop tomorrow’s scientists in keeping with the Partnerships and Accountability Goal of the “Fisheries Program Vision for the Future”.

Andy Starostka, Andy Plauck, Clayton J. Ridenour

Contact Info: Andrew Starostka, 5732342132 x119, andy_starostka@fws.gov
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