Environmental Education Program
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge offers free educational opportunities for all ages. Please contact staff for special accommodations or to tailor a program for your educational group (college, adults, scouts, etc.).
Ranger-led programs are available weekdays as staff time allows. Each Ranger-led program has a maximum of 30 students per group. Groups larger than 30 can select to have a 10-15 minute welcome talk by a Ranger. Many large groups need to be split into smaller groups due to their size. In this case, please plan to rotate through activities and have a group leader to lead each activity.
Feel free to contact us first if you need a date before submitting the reservation form. However, the reservation form is needed to confirm your date. Staff will email you a confirmation and information after receiving your reservation. Please send a different reservation form for each day your group is visiting. If you do not receive a confirmation form at least a week in advance please contact us right away at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 580-429-2197.
Current Visitor Center activities available:
- Scavenger hunt
- Indoor Birding
- Jr. Wildlife Ranger (coming soon)
- Birding Backpacks
*Transportation grants may be available, contact the Friends of the Wichitas for information.
GUIDELINES FOR GROUPS
We work with many different schools and groups every year. We want to make it a great field trip for your group and simple for you to schedule. Only the lead teacher/group leader should communicate with the Refuge to reduce confusion. Please share the information we send you with other attending teachers, chaperones, principals, driver, and necessary personnel.
Respect for Educator(s)
For students to get the most out of the programs, educators need to have the opportunity to present as much information as possible. To prevent any information or activities from being cut from programs, students need to stay focused and listen to the educator’s instructions. Students should raise hands to answer questions, remain seated unless told otherwise, and maintain a positive attitude throughout the entire experience. Student nametags (clear and large enough to read) help staff personalize the trip.
Respect for the Refuge
At National Wildlife Refuges, wildlife comes first. Refuges provide habitat for wildlife and we can respect wildlife and habitats through the following ways: do not litter (pack-it in, pack-it out), do not pick leaves/stems of plants, do not leave food behind, and quiet voices. Do not enter closed areas. Groups should bring their own trash bags to take all their trash with them. The refuge has limited trash cans. Leave rocks, feathers, sticks, etc on the ground. Please do not have the students take brochures. Brochures can be provided to the teacher.
It is a wild place and you never know what you will see! Snakes, bugs, ticks, raccoons, skunks, etc live at the refuge. Please stay with the group. If a student needs to use the restroom, please have a chaperone accompany the student.
Respect for Each Other
Students should be respectful to each other. No yelling, pinching, harassing, etc. Teachers and chaperones are responsible for student behavior. Students should stay with the group.
PREPARATION PRIOR TO YOUR VISIT
- Review your confirmation form!
- Share these guidelines with chaperones and let them know what their responsibilities are.
- Share the location map with drivers. Google and various digital maps do not always put you in the correct location.
- Let students and chaperones know what to bring, leave at school, and what to wear.
- Wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes
- Most of the activities are outside. It can be windy at the refuge.
- Technology: leave games, music devices, etc at home or school.
- Cameras and cell phones are okay if they stay out of the way. The Refuge is not responsible for any personal items. Most areas of the Refuge don’t have cell coverage.
- Pack it in, pack it out! Bring large garbage bags to pack out your trash and dispose of it at your school. Our trash bins cannot accommodate the entire group’s trash. *Tip: bring extra bags to take back your bottles and cans to recycle.
- Make name tags for students and chaperones. We don’t always know a parent from a teacher.
- Before your visit, divide your class(es) into the appropriate number of groups (2-3) to accommodate the number of activity rotations you have requested. *Tip: use a color to separate into groups if not separated by class.
- Some students get dehydrated on warm sunny days. Have students bring a water bottle with their name on it so they can refill. A headache can be the first sign, contact staff if this occurs so we can get them fluids.
- The visitor center is limited on space. Most students do not need to have a backpack with them during a program. Food is not allowed inside the visitor center.
- The Friends of the Wichitas operates the nature store. 5 students accompanied by an adult will be permitted in at a time. Please plan time outside of ranger-led programming if you are going to allow students to shop.
- If the group is coming in several vehicles, please try to arrive on time as a group. Staff only have the scheduled time for your group and will have to shorten programs to fit.