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Learning about bird identification and macroinvertebrates at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Northeast Region, May 14, 2018
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St. Michaels 4th grade students conduct a biological assessment using macroinvertebrates from the Passaic River.
St. Michaels 4th grade students conduct a biological assessment using macroinvertebrates from the Passaic River. - Photo Credit: GSWA
4th grade students practicing their wildlife observation skills.
4th grade students practicing their wildlife observation skills. - Photo Credit: GSWA
A line of students walking the Bockoven trail for a bird identification activity.
A line of students walking the Bockoven trail for a bird identification activity. - Photo Credit: Daniel Correa

Seventy-five 4th graders visited Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) on two separate days in May 2018. They came from St. Michaels School in Newark and Public School 4 in Paterson, as part of the Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) program offered through the National Park Foundation. The EKIP program offers funding for things like busing and supplies to get children into National Parks and other federally preserved open spaces. Great Swamp Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization, worked with National Park Service Interpretative specialist Dan Meharg to develop the programming content and make arrangements for the EKIP programs for Spring 2018. USFWS staff members and volunteers also helped deliver the programs at Great Swamp NWR.
During their visits, students learned about the National Wildlife Refuge System and the different habitats, animals, and plants that live at Great Swamp NWR. Students then completed activities designed to teach them real-life scientific skills such as gathering data and observing wildlife. The first activity was called ‘Birds, Brains and Binoculars,’ this activity taught the students how to use binoculars, how to identify birds, and how to make observations about wildlife. The second activity focused on macroinvertebrates collected from the Passaic River. Students learned what a macroinvertebrate is, they got to observe and handle live macroinvertebrates, and they learned the role that these creatures play in biological assessments.
Every student was engaged throughout all the activities of the day. They were all excited, curious, and interested, and they had questions about everything they were learning about. Seeing their reaction to wildlife was rewarding and exciting for the program leaders as well. Some students were excited to see a big crayfish in a sampling bucket, while others were amazed by the sight of a bald eagle flying overhead. This program is great example of inter-agency and multiple-partner collaboration to help engage diverse and underserved urban youth in the outdoors.


Contact Info: Daniel Correa, 9083670906, daniel_correaserna@fws.gov
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