Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Education Programs

Bird banding. Credit: USFWS

Bird banding. Credit: USFWS

Earthscope: Earthscope, an environmental education program conducted by the Huntsville City School System, brings more than 2,000 third grade students to the Visitor Center for one-half day of environmental education and wildlife observation during fall and winter months.

Refuge Summer Day Camps: Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge offers a one-day camp during the summer months to children ages 8-10 and 11-13. The children enjoy a full day on Wheeler Refuge experiencing many hands-on indoor and outdoor activities focusing on wildlife and conservation. The camps, sponsored by the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association are free with an optional $10.00 Refuge Day Camp tee shirt. Sign-up will begin in May with the available dates of the camps. For further information, contact Visitor Center at (256)350-6639.

Junior Refuge Manager Program: The Junior Refuge Manager Program is an activity for youths, ages 5-13, to complete a booklet while touring the Refuge with their family. The booklet, certificate, and badge are free of charge. Alone, or with the help of a family member, the youngster must complete the assignments in the booklet to obtain his/her badge and certificate. Activities in the booklet are age appropriate and clearly marked. Topics include: endangered species, trees, wetlands, track identification, and a scavenger hunt. With the completion of the booklet, the youngster can obtain his/her badge and certificate to become an official Junior Refuge Manager.

Youth Fishing Rodeo: For well over a decade, Wheeler Refuge has hosted a Youth Fishing Rodeo on the First Saturday in May. Now with the use of a designated fishing pond, the youths have a better chance of having an exciting time. For many anglers in the North Alabama area, Wheeler’s Youth Fishing Rodeo introduced them to the love of fishing. The event is free of charge for youngsters 5 -12. Parking is at the Visitor Center. Trophies for most weight in each age group and door prizes are awarded. For further information, call the Visitor Center at (256) 350-6639.

Boy and Girl Scouts: The Boy and Girl Scouts of America have visited, serviced, and assisted Wheeler Refuge for years. Each year, the number of scout troops visiting the Refuge has grown. The scouts have picked up trash, planted trees, built bird feeders, planted wildflower gardens, and built benches, just to name a few of the service projects they have completed on Wheeler Refuge. The Refuge has provided various programs for scout troops focusing on snakes, poisonous plants, birds, endangered species, wildlife jobs, etc...If you are a Scout Leader and need to plan a visit to the Refuge, call (256)350-6639.

Alternative Choices through Educational Systems (A.C.E.S.): As part of community outreach efforts, a partnership with the Decatur City Police Department’s Alternative Choices through Educational Systems (A.C.E.S.) Program has been established. This arrangement provides more than 300 inner city youths opportunities to experience one-half day of fishing and environmental education on the Refuge.

4-H Programs: The Morgan County 4-H Wildlife Club has been holding its monthly meetings at the Wheeler Refuge Visitor Center for several years. Refuge Rangers assist in many of the meetings focusing on various aspects of wildlife conservation. The 4-H Wildlife Club has also assisted the Refuge on several service projects from cleanup to wetland restoration projects. For further information concerning the Morgan County 4-H Wildlife Club, contact Sandy Shepard at the Morgan County Extension System at (256)773-2549.

Forestry Awareness Week Now (FAWN): Every year Wheeler Refuge hosts the Morgan County and Decatur City FAWN festivals in May and October. The annual event involves over 600 sixth grade students from Morgan County schools in May and over 700 sixth graders from Decatur City schools in October. With approximately seven stations set up along a 1.5 mile trail, the students learn Tree I.D., Wildlife, Wetlands, Forest History, Forest Products, Forest Management, and Project Learning Tree. The multi-agency event is always a big hit with students.

Wet & Wild: The annual Wet & Wild/National Wildlife Refuge Week Celebration is held the first week in October. Approximately 2,000 local fifth grade students attend the event. The focus for the multi-agency festival is to foster awareness of wetlands, clean water, and habitat preservation.

Activites and Field Trips Available By Grade: A Ranger or Volunteer will assist in presentations given during trips to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Program topics can vary according to your needs. All of the topics mentioned can be used with any age group, however, they seem to work very well within the outlined grade level.

K thru 2nd Mammals Discussions concerning mammal similarities and differences. Furs, tracks, replicas, skulls, etc.,will be used during the program to further enhance the activities and to provide hands-on experiences for students.
Snakes in our State Many people have questions concerning snakes. Children seem to have a fascination with the critters. With the use of live snakes, slides, and replicas, the program will help students understand the dangers, importance, and uniqueness of Alabama’s snakes.
What makes a Bird The ability to fly has fascinated humans forever. What makes a bird a bird is an activity to demonstrate bird behavior and make-up. The program will use bird mounts, skulls, feathers, and slides to further enhance the activity. Feather rubbings and Beak and Feet activities are just a few ways to make this activity very hands-on.
3rd thru 5th Signs of Wildlife Everyone enjoys viewing wildlife. Wildlife, however, doesn’t always enjoy being viewed. During Signs of Wildlife, students learn to not only see wildlife, but interpret the signs they leave behind. Tract replicas and hiking are included during this activity.
Wetlands Wetlands are important habitats for man and wildlife alike. With use of the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk adjacent to the Refuge Visitor Center, students will discover the importance of wetlands while actually visiting one.
Native Wildlife Much of our knowledge concerning wildlife in our area is being lost to our youth. We use this program as a fun, fact-filled educational program concerning information and importance of our native fauna. Games and activities are used during the program.
6th thru 8th Endangered Animals Extinction means forever. This program discusses the dangers facing several species of plants and animals in our area listed on the Federal and State Endangered and Threatened species lists.
Tree and Leaf Identification During the Tree and Leaf identification activity students learn to identify common forest trees, do leaf rubbings, and have a tree scavenger hunt.
Birds of Prey What is a Raptor? What do they eat? What are the laws concerning their feathers? All these questions and more will be addressed during the presentation. Mounts, Feathers, Feet, and a live Bird of Prey (Hawkeye) will be utilized during the program.
9th thru 12th Reptiles and Amphibians
of Alabama
This presentation will use slides, frog calls, and live specimens to educate the students concerning the importance and dangers related to reptiles and amphibians.
Birdwatching Bird Identification or birdwatching has become one of the largest growing pastimes in America. It is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the environment. With the use of identification keys, and bird lists, students will learn to identify several different bird species.


Last updated: June 9, 2009