Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Endangered species get a boost from EEE
Midwest Region, September 20, 2011
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FWS Biologist 'Wyatt Doyle' teaches at EEE classroom
FWS Biologist 'Wyatt Doyle' teaches at EEE classroom - Photo Credit: Heather Calkins
FWS Biologist 'Wyatt Doyle' teaches at EEE classroom
FWS Biologist 'Wyatt Doyle' teaches at EEE classroom - Photo Credit: Heather Calkins

Reaching a new milestone in environmental education, biologists from the Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) (Wyatt Doyle, Heather Calkins and Anna Clark) led a collaborative effort to instruct conservation of endangered species for Columbia Public Schools' gifted education program, otherwise known as EEE. EEE, or Extended Education Experience, teaches elective learning to gifted children. The Columbia FWCO  developed an outreach program last spring that allowed staff to speak to all 500 students in the program. This fall, the Columbia FWCO continued its  partnership with Columbia Public Schools by teaching EEE students about endangered species. EEE’s Meg Brown taught the elective class before, but said our spring presentation inspired her to teach it again.

Each child (age 8-11) chose a threatened Missouri animal and learned something specific about the reason for the species' decline.The Columbia FWCO used mussels as a springboard to develop a multi-media presentation that introduced human actions that threaten our ecosystem. Staff introduced key ecological terms and brought live fish and crayfish specimens into the classroom. Each child was given a button hole punched mussel shell that was found on the Illinois River after they shared what they had learned on their own about their selected imperiled animal.

Working with partners in the Department of Agriculture (APHIS) and Ecological Services, we brought in exotic pelts, federally confiscated skins and stuffed animals to introduce other branches of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and Columbia Ecological Services Field Office also brought their expertise to the program. Service staff researched  each student’s chosen organism and brought pictures, actual preserved specimens and artifacts to teach ecological understanding for stewardship and wildlife management. Partners served as guest experts during the five-day program and presented information on a variety of species' including bald eagle, gray bat, prairie chicken, hellbender, spotted skunk, peregrine falcon, pallid sturgeon and many more. Each biologist also offered a more complete picture of a concept the teacher had introduced, like threats from windmills, water conservation, refuge preserves and contaminants. This program served as a unique experience for both students and their teachers, and built upon an existing curriculum that can be used at other schools. Biologists reinforced EEE’s premise that kids can learn beyond expectations while instilling a greater sense of wonder and stewardship that can last a lifetime.

The Columbia FWCO strives to promote the diversity of knowledge and services they offer to the public through their expertise and diversity within the Fisheries, Ecological Services and Refuge programs of the FWS. Conservation education for kids has been a mantra the Service has carried for years and Service staff continue to enjoy the opportunity to share as a team within that vision. The program has also inspired two summer interns sponsored by the co-director of the EEE program to work with the Service. Teachers at the EEE continue to encourage the Service to continue to educate in new and inventive ways while encouraging more young conservationists to get involved and support the natural resources of Missouri.

Contact Info: Wyatt Doyle, (573)876-1911 ex 111, wyatt_doyle@fws.gov
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