Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Urban kids from Paterson, New Jersey paddle for the first time at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
Northeast Region, August 11, 2014
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Youth corps employees from the Great Falls National Historical Park (NPS, Paterson NJ) recently traveled to Wallkill River NWR for a day of birding, hiking, and paddling. Five kids from the Great Falls 'landscape team' and their SCA team leader joined biologists Marilyn Kitchell and Ken Witkowski for a guided tour of the refuge, including visits to the impoundments, a grassland restoration site, and the refuge's newest recreation area (Owens Station Crossing). The kids used the refuge's loaner binoculars to get close-up views of shorebirds, herons and egrets; listened to the chattering calls of Indigo buntings and common yellowthroats; and went kayaking for the very first time. At their last stop, the kids utilized the refuge's new boat launch and dock to gingerly launch kayaks for an hour-long paddle. Their nerves subsided after a few minutes of flat-water paddling, and the kids were quickly exploring the lake's edges and habitats with enthusiasm. Laughter and smiles were abundant during the afternoon paddle, and the visit was such a hit that the Great Falls crew has since requested a duplicate visit for their 'Interpretive Team', which is planned for mid-August.


Refuge staff have been working to foster connections with urban youth for several years, and this visit adds another partner to the list of urban connections. Refuge staff have worked with organizations and communities in Yonkers, NY; Newark, Trenton, and Phillipsburg, NJ; and Easton, PA - Paterson NJ can now also be added to the list. Look for more on the refuge's urban outreach efforts in the future!

Contact Info: Jennifer Lapis, 413-253-8303, Jennifer_Lapis@fws.gov
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