Volunteer Experiences

  • GIS Project

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    We were assigned a 1986 Army Truck (M1008) acquired from Fort Sill. Our job here at the Refuge involved using a hand-held Trimble running ArcPad to collect GPS features along the boundaries. After a day of field work, we  learned how to upload the data to the server and reconcile it using ArcMap and ArcCatalog. We also correlate the pictures we took with the appropriate GPS features. It was very interesting defining our project maps, downloading to the handheld GPS unit, gathering new data points and photos, and then uploading back to the workstation to see the revised data points in the GIS database.

    The Mountains were adorned in green and covered with wildflowers while we worked. We saw many of the animals tending to their newborns.

  • Favorite Memories of the Wichitas

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    One morning we spotted this elk less than 100 yards from us. During their fall mating season the bull elk serenaded us with their odd bugling sounds.
    Rush hour traffic here involves stopping for groups of bison or Texas longhorn meandering across the road or waiting while a prairie dog or coyote runs across. This 92 square mile free range refuge contains 700 elk, 650 bison and 265 Texas longhorn, so no telling when you will see a critter.

  • Getting to Know the Refuge

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    Volunteering at the Wichita’s has been such a rewarding experience. Our last job was to document certain burned areas for human disturbance. We found old mining roads and mine tailings. We did a GPS reading and took pictures of everything we found. Later, we entered all this information on the ARCMap system. We are from Oklahoma and I didn't know there was so much to see and explore in our own state.

  • Dinner at the Volunteer Kitchen

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    We had a nice going away meal for volunteers who will be leaving the area soon. The Refuge has fixed up an old horse barn into a kitchen for the volunteers. We have everything necessary – fridge, freezer, stove and all brand new. So we decided to have our dinner there as well. While we were sitting there with both front and back doors open for the breeze an elk walked over and started eating leaves off the trees and then meandered off. I couldn't believe he got so close and in the middle of the day. It was so neat.

  • Meditation on the Refuge

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    There are some days out here when your senses seem so alive, sounds and smells and textures rush together and fill you so completely that you can't say where you begin and they end ... the seasons, the land, and you.
    The wind, like a river, carries the seasons through the Wichitas, washing the landscape with diversity and an abundance of life…
    This is where an idea began long ago - to save a species and bring it home. This is where that idea lives today, in a Refuge for wildlife and the human spirit.

  • A Volunteer from Fort Sill

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    Volunteering fills me with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. These come from sharing my skills and knowledge to lend a helping hand. I have only been volunteering at the Refuge for a few short weeks but have already had the opportunity to meet and work with a diverse group of people who have taught me much about the area. The Refuge is a beautiful place to work; I look forward to the challenges and opportunities provided to me!