For Educators


Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

-William Butler Yeats 

If you're looking for a FREE and fun experience, come to the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge for a field trip! Come check out our new hands-on exhibits, watch films or dissect owl pellets in our classroom, hike the Grassy Island Interpretive Hiking Trail, canoe with the Refuge's provided canoes, collect macro-invertebrates, enjoy learning about local animals by seeing and feeling animal pelts, etc.  Did I mention this was all FREE?  Bring your bus for an interpretive tour of our refuge during the winter to view a variety of species of ducks and geese, bald eagles, and other animals.  

Twenty-five sets of binoculars are available for children to use for refuge field trips. 

Twenty-five Discovery Backpacks are also available for checkout at the refuge or for classroom activities. Please call and reserve backpacks for large groups.

Can't reach us? We can reach you...

If you're on a tight budget, refuge staff can come to you! Through outdoor activities, short films, power-points, art, and seeing a few live critters up close, children and teachers will enjoy learning about the rich, diverse refuges of West Tennessee.

Various programs are available to any school in Obion, Lake, Dyer, Tipton, Lauderdale and Haywood counties. Here is a list of a few of the programs we can offer. Each program lasts approximately 30-45 minutes.

  • Owl Pellet Dissection: Learn all about owls of Tennessee then dissect a real owl pellet!
  • Animal Signs: There are animal signs all around you-sometimes you just have to look to see them. Learn the different types of animal signs and participate in a scavenger hunt!
  • Animal Tracks: Did you know animal tracks can tell a story? Tell your own story with animal tracks and make your own animal track molding to carry home!
  • Migration Challenge: From diseases to being eaten by cats, birds have many obstacles they face while migrating. Learn about these obstacles and many more while you participate in a classroom-sized board game that takes you through a typical migration route of many birds of North America.
  • Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship: Be a biologist for day! Collect fake birds from a net and obtain data such as species, age, sex, etc. to find out if their population is increasing, stable or declining. 
  • Carrying Capacities: What is carrying capacity? Do all areas have a carrying capacity? Find out these answers and many more as we divide the class into 'herds' of deer and compete for food sources. Learn how human intervention, natural predators, diseases, etc. can effect carrying capacity
  • Snakes of TN: Do snakes have bones? Are they deaf? How can you tell venomous from non-venomous? Snakes have a bad reputation but they are a very important part of our ecosystem. Learn about all snakes of Tennessee and meet Cayenne, a snake that calls the refuge home. 
  • Food Webs:  Become part of a classroom sized food web! Students are able to experience how the whole ecosystem is affected by having one plant/animal taken out of the food web. This is a fun activity for students to discover the differences between trophic levels!
  • Turtles of TN: Learn all about the variety of species of turtles that live in Tennessee through an interpretive power point presentation and be able to hold several kinds of real turtle shells.
  • Amphibians: How are amphibians different from reptiles? Learn all about frogs, toads, salamanders, etc. through an interpretive power point presentation.
  • Endangered Species: What is the difference between threatened, endangered and extinct? How many endangered and threatened species do we have in Tennessee? We will learn about endangered species, how humans can hurt and help, and read 'The Lorax' by Dr. Seuss.
  • Story Time: Learn about a variety of animals from the red fox to the bullfrog through interactive story-telling. Afterward, have a brief presentation about an animal you may find at a refuge. 
  • Animal Pelts and Skulls: Have you ever touched the fur of a mink? How about a bobcat? Experience the feel of many types of animal fur and learn about the different adaptations animals have to help them survive in the wild. Explore the differences between carnivore, herbivore and omnivore by looking at animal skulls.
  • National Wildlife Refuges: Have you ever visited a National Wildlife Refuge before? If not, let a Refuge Ranger bring the refuge to you through a short 10 minute film and interactive power point presentation!
  •  Wonderful Waterfowl: Is a blue heron a waterfowl? What about a pelican? Learn what makes a waterfowl a waterfowl! Be able to identify common duck and goose species at Reelfoot Lake and learn why it's important to be able to identify them. 
  • Animal Olympics: How many times can a hummingbird flap his wings in 30 seconds? How far can a frog jump? Test your skills as you move from station to station to see how far and fast you can do things compared to the wildlife!
  • Beaks and Bills: Learn how birds have special adaptations to collect specific foods within their diet through an interactive game where students find out which bill or beak works best for obtaining certain foods. 
  • Federal Jr. Duck Stamp: Attention art and science teachers! This is an art contest that combines art with science for an incredible outcome of a North American waterfowl species. While drawing the waterfowl, you will also be learning about habitats, plumage, wetlands, etc. Everyone gets a prize for participating!
  • Wetlands: Once known as waste areas, wetlands are a valuable part of our world. Wetlands filter water, are an incredible place for many types of animals, unique places to visit, as well as many other things. Learn about wetlands and why they are so beneficial to us!  
  • Careers with USFWS:  Interested in law enforcement? Management? Working with children? Being a biologist?  Computers? There are many opportunities you can explore with the USFWS. Learn today what you can do to get your foot in the door!

Have an Upcoming Event?

The Reelfoot NWR can set up a booth at any of the following events;

  • Career fairs
  • School field days
  • Community events
  • Wildlife events, NWTF, Duck Unlimited, QDMA, etc.

For more information, contact the Refuge Headquarters.