Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
STONE LAKES NWR: Bee the Biologist Teaches Children about the Ecosystem
California-Nevada Offices , June 20, 2012
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Bee the Biologist of Stones Lakes NWR.
Bee the Biologist of Stones Lakes NWR. - Photo Credit: Cindy Sandoval/USFWS
Amy Hopperstad, USFWS shows off the lower children friendly portion of the panel.
Amy Hopperstad, USFWS shows off the lower children friendly portion of the panel. - Photo Credit: Cindy Sandoval/USFWS
Human and animal prints in the cement are popular with visitors.
Human and animal prints in the cement are popular with visitors. - Photo Credit: Cindy Sandoval/USFWS

By Cindy Sandoval, External Affairs

Ask a child to name an animal and you usually get cats, dogs, tigers or bears. The animals that often go unnoticed are hummingbirds, bats, beetles, butterflies, flies and bees. However, these forgotten hard-working pollinators help pollinate over 75 percent of flowering plants, and nearly 75 percent of crops. If the busy bees and other pollinators disappeared, wildlife along with humans would have fewer berries, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

With all of the work pollinators do during pollinator week and year round, it is no wonder Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) chose the character Bee the Biologist to teach visitors about the ecosystem through interpretive displays.

Amy Hopperstad, Visitor Services Manager at Stone Lakes NWR, routinely conducts tours of the refuge and its numerous interpretive displays. The displays are designed to have the more complicated scientific information at the top and the animal drawings and fun activities are placed at eye level for kids. Each display has different activities listed but all feature Bee the Biologist. Bee gives information to children that is easy to understand and fun. One display asks visitors if they smell “something stinky?” Then Bee explains the smell is the process of decomposition and that is what puts nutrients back into the wetland.

Bee is not only attractive to children but teachers like him too. The displays were designed with important words like habitat, microorganism and biodiversity highlighted so teachers have a ready source of vocabulary words for their classroom after a visit to the refuge.

Another one of Bee’s displays provides a photo point opportunity to visitors. The panel reads “using a camera, take a photo point of the trees in front of you; how big do you think they’ll be in next year’s photo?” Hopperstad explains, “This not only gets the kids thinking but it gets them involved. They want to come back and check on the growth of the trees.”

Stone Lakes NWR educates visitors that they are not merely observers of nature but they are a part of it. The walkways feature different animal prints that range from birds and rabbits to humans. With Bee as a guide, children and adults learn to view the environment as a connected community that their actions can improve or degrade.

Stone Lakes NWR was established more than 10 years ago to provide a refuge for waterfowl and other wildlife. Stone Lakes NWR and other refuges around the nation help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accomplish their mission to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the benefit of the American people. With the help of Bee the biologist and the right eco-education children can be better prepared to understand a changing climate and the need for conservation.

Contact Info: Cynthia Sandoval, 916-978-6159, cynthia_d_sandoval@fws.gov
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