Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
MU researchers help high school teachers bring Missouri River history to life on the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
Midwest Region, October 29, 2008
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Students at Frederick Douglass High School in Columbia, Mo., are learning about the Missouri River and its history through a series of field trips and activities developed by their teachers in collaboration with researchers from the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources.

Funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Corps of Discovery project enhances classroom learning through field trips, service-learning projects and interactions with conservation and wildlife professionals. Most of the activities take place at Overton Bottoms, a unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, which is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We want students to learn more about the social, cultural and environmental history of the Missouri River; improve their awareness, understanding and appreciation of the Big Muddy; and help them explore some career opportunities in natural resource management," said Mark Morgan, associate professor in MU's Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. "We feel that active involvement would be a better way to learn this information, as compared with using a traditional classroom approach."

Big Muddy NFWR occupies 10,000 acres in eight sites along the Missouri River floodplain. While rich in history and endowed with a diversity of plant and animal life, the refuge remains little-known, Morgan said.

"Although the refuge is charged with a responsibility to provide outdoor recreation and environmental education, it has limited staff and financial resources," Morgan said. "Bringing students to the refuge is a benefit to the students and the Fish and Wildlife Service."

Douglas High School, an alternative public school with fewer than 200 students, provides a non-traditional curriculum tailored to at-risk students.

"Due to barriers and constraints, some disadvantaged students, especially minorities, have fewer opportunities for field trips than those attending other high schools in Columbia,"

Contact Info: Tim Haller, 573-441-2799, tim_haller@fws.gov
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