National Wildlife Refuge System

Through the Eyes of Children

Supported by Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM, fourth and fifth graders produced a field guide to the refuge while learning about water, ecology, restoration, pollution and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Friends purchased digital cameras and several field journals for the students. The full-color, 106-page book is the culmination of a year-long, intensive project to document, photograph and describe the refuge from a child’s perspective.   It is a great example of how to reach children and change their perception of the natural world.  As an outreach tool, the book is like a visitor center in your pocket. It summarizes refuge history and resources, highlights particular species, describes management techniques, and presents tidbits of information — all enhanced by dozens of photos and quotes from the children, strikingly poetic and insightful.   

Watershed education director Alexis Rykken explained, "We started our work in September when the whole refuge is golden. Every Tuesday the big yellow school bus rumbled to a stop in the parking lot . . . We placed a great deal of emphasis on behavior and ethics and walking with awareness. The kids took their work seriously . . . Their voices will guide us into the future."

The field guide is available for $12.95 at the Bosque Nature Store and through the Friends online store (; proceeds benefit refuge outreach and education programs.

Last updated: July 25, 2011