Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
TOGIAK: Refuge Helps Local Class Kick Around with Science
Alaska Region, May 28, 2013
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Surprise! Several students discovered that June bugs were on the last meal menu for many of the leopard frogs they examined.
Surprise! Several students discovered that June bugs were on the last meal menu for many of the leopard frogs they examined. - Photo Credit: USFWS/Togiak Refuge
"And then you make an incision here." Teacher Nick Tweet helps a student get started with dissecting her frog. - Photo Credit: USFWS/Togiak Refuge

In addition to refuge initiated requests to visit with area students- such as for National Wildlife Refuge Week or for the Alaska Migratory Bird Calendar, Togiak Refuge also often gets requests from local schools to either present or assist in classrooms about selected topics pertaining to conservation, wildlife or outdoor activities. One such example of that took place recently in the Dillingham Elementary 5th grade classrooms of DES teachers Karen Rhoades and Nick Tweet. The discussion and subsequent activity provided students with a great opportunity that was simply a hopping good time.


Last year Nick Tweet contacted Togiak Refuge about speaking to his class about wood frogs, ahead of a frog dissection lesson. Refuge staff were also invited to assist students during the dissections, which immediately followed the wood frog lesson. The resulting two part class was a big hit with both students and teachers.

Fast forward a year: the same lesson, but with a different group of fifth grade students. Also the same was the presence of Mr. Tweet and the format for the lesson. New to it was Mrs. Rhoades. The results of the morning were a repeat of the previous year, possibly even better. Students spent the first twenty minutes learning about the wood frog, the only amphibian found across the refuge area. Immediately after that, they were divided into pairs for the dissection portion of the lesson (which used commercially prepared leopard frogs). A virtual dissection using a computer program walked the students through the process and showed them what to look for, after which they were on their own.

In both words and actions, rapt attentiveness and keen interest was clearly evident in every single student. Even students that claimed mild squeamishness at the beginning of the lesson were fully engaged within minutes of actually starting and a high level of focus permeated the room throughout the lesson.

Connecting kids to the outdoors will likely continue to be a priority for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In some instances, such as with classroom opportunities like this 5th grade frog lesson, the outdoors is in some small way brought inside instead. Even so, the result is much the same: kids are provided with a chance to have a hands-on experience with nature, something that creates memories that will continue to mold for them a positive outlook about the outdoor world. And as always, Togiak Refuge is delighted to have a hand in that critical process.

Contact Info: Terry Fuller, 907-842-1063 ext. 8419, terry_fuller@fws.gov
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