Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
KLAMATH BASIN NWR COMPLEX: Klamath Refuges Education and Outreach Program Reaching Thousands
California-Nevada Offices , September 19, 2013
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The old duck hospital before the renovation.
The old duck hospital before the renovation. - Photo Credit: USFWS
After renovation, the new Dave Menke Environmental Education Center.
After renovation, the new Dave Menke Environmental Education Center. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Refuge Staff use the new Dave Menke Environmental Education Center classroom.
Refuge Staff use the new Dave Menke Environmental Education Center classroom. - Photo Credit: USFWS

By Michael Woodbridge and Hallie Rasmussen

In 2010, the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex was like lots of national wildlife refuges across the United States, they were leading some field trips for local students and doing some outreach in the community. But the refuge staff wanted to do more. They asked themselves, “How can we increase our outreach and environmental education efforts in an age of shrinking budgets and bigger workloads?” Then, the answer came to them: partnerships.

Working with the non-profit Klamath Bird Observatory, a group that had helped write the curriculum for Lava Beds National Monument and Crater Lake National Park, the refuge secured a grant for the non-profit to assist in writing a grades K-8 wetlands curriculum and grades K-12 birding curriculum.

The refuge also partnered with another local non-profit, Klamath Outdoor Science School, who had paid liaisons to conduct outdoor education in the Klamath Basin. With the Science School’s help, the refuge was able to start leading larger school groups and reach more educators in the Klamath Basin.

Building on the success of these partnerships, the refuge obtained a grant through the Klamath Audubon Society to help reimburse the bus transportation costs for bringing students to the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex’s six national wildlife refuges.

With these successful partnerships in place, the refuge complex was able to look to its biggest outreach and education goal: creating a new environmental education center out of an old duck hospital structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1940s.

That goal was realized on November 17, 2012, when the complex hosted a grand opening for the Dave Menke Environmental Education Center. After nearly three years of planning and construction, the facility was up and running as an educational classroom for the Klamath Basin refuges. The Center is equipped with teaching kits, binoculars, dip nets, and all the necessary supplies to carry out successful environmental education programs. The Center is also on the cutting edge of technology, with Kindle Fire tablets that have a variety of downloaded Field Guides.

The Center was dedicated to honor David Menke, the former Recreation Planner who worked at the Klamath Basin refuges for 20 years. Menke was instrumental in countless projects, including Discovery Marsh, a massive wetland restoration project that includes viewing structures, interpretive trails, and a variety of wildlife for the public to enjoy. Menke’s vision was to convert an old duck hospital on the refuge into an environmental education center. After his untimely death in 2011, refuge staff followed through on his vision and built the Center.

With a number of effective partnerships and the new environmental education center, the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Complex had a successful year for environmental education and outreach. During fiscal year 2013, the refuge complex provided curriculum-based on-site environmental education to nearly 1,500 students and off-site education to nearly 1,000 students. In addition, the refuge complex provided outreach to approximately 12,000 people through interpretive programs, festivals, and other events. Overall, the refuge complex reached nearly 15,000 people through their environmental education and outreach programs.

Michael Woodbridge is a Public Affairs Officer at the Pacific Southwest Regional Office in Sacramento, California. Hallie Rasmussen is the Visitor Services Manager at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Tulelake, California.


Contact Info: Michael Woodbridge, 916-978-4445, michael_woodbridge@fws.gov
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