Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Area Eighth Graders Soak Up the Sun and Outdoor Knowledge
Midwest Region, May 11, 2012
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Students Take a Canoe Ride As One of the Activities During the 8th Grade Outdoors Day
Students Take a Canoe Ride As One of the Activities During the 8th Grade Outdoors Day - Photo Credit: USFWS

On May 8, 2012, the outdoor areas at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge rang with the excited voices of 147 students from eight area schools, as well as home-schooled groups, who had come to the Refuge for the 8th Grade Outdoor Day. It was a picture-perfect day in North Missouri, workers staffed 13 stations scattered over the grounds adjacent to the visitor center. Each station had hands-on learning opportunities for participants ranging from gun safety and skeet shooting, goose and duck calling, trapping of furbearers, waterfowl identification, canoeing, hunting dogs, reptiles, archery, fishing, through spring migration of birds and how to use binoculars to identify the variety of bird species that can be found on Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

The new Amphitheatre was utilized to gather all the participants for the Missouri Wildlife program presented by MDC Education Specialist Adam Brandsgard, immediately after the lunch break. The overlook, a fairly new addition on Swan Lake’s south shore, was the perfect place to learn about using binoculars as students looked at various birds in the marsh below. As usual, the viewing tower, that “oldie but goodie” that has been a part of the Swan Lake landscape for many years, was a popular spot. The new stream box was a popular hit with the students as well. The stream box allows students to immerse themselves in stream dynamics where they learn through hands on activities how water affects the landscape.


Besides personnel from the refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ecological Services program and employees from the Missouri Department of Conservation, volunteers from the Grand River Audubon Society, Missouri Trappers Association, United Bow Hunters of Missouri, high school students of the North Central Missouri Homeschoolers Association and Friends of Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge were on hand to share their knowledge with the students by staffing the various activity stations. There were 38 volunteers that helped make the event possible. The educators were enthusiastic about the opportunity for their classes to learn about such a variety of outdoor activities in an expanded outdoor classroom venue. Many took away ideas for next year’s lessons, some direct, some as subtle as how students can learn about water displacement from their canoeing experiences.

Eighth Grade Education Day at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge was a good example of how much fun learning can be, especially when the classroom is the “great outdoors” on a perfect day in May.

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