For Educators


Most children who participate in the education program have never before seen a deer, great egret, or beaver lodge, have never hiked, and have never used binoculars. This is the beginning . . .

Columbia National Wildlife Refuge just completed its 31st year of teaching Columbia Basin children about wildlife and habitats! The program began in 1982 when the refuge manager decided to introduce Othello 3rd grade students to an environmental awareness program. Within 10 years, enough teachers wanted to expose their students to this education that Moses Lake's Central Basin Audubon Society became involved. They formed Audubon Refuge Keepers (ARK), a group devoted to environmental education. ARK volunteers have faithfully overseen the program ever since.

Every year, 10 to 12 volunteers give presentations and tours to between 500 and 700 3rd and 4th graders. Most of the children attend schools in Connell, Othello, Ephrata and Moses Lake. Each class receives a classroom presentation followed by a refuge tour. During tours, school buses travel through marshes and uplands with a naturalist guide and end at a lake where children learn about birds, plants and aquatic insects.

Volunteers donate many hundreds of hours to the ARK program. By current volunteer wage equivalents, ARK volunteers donated $9,475.92 to the refuge in 2013.

If you are an educator and want your class to participate in the ARK program, or if you are a prospective volunteer and are interested in teaching in the ARK program, please contact ARK President, Margaret Schiffner, at (509) 765-6374.

If you are interested in a shortened, less formal presentation for your class, either in your classroom or at the refuge, contact the refuge at (509) 488-3140. We cannot accommodate every request with our limited staff, but interacting with students is one of the most fun, most important things we do, and if we can, we'll help you.