Those looking for something fun to do this spring break are invited to make a trip to the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. Spend an hour or half a day at the come-and-go events. Starting this Saturday, March 18, the KWEC will have special, free programs and activities each day through March 26 for visitors of all ages.
The Fort Hays State University’s KWEC is located 10 miles northeast of Great Bend along K-156 at Cheyenne Bottoms. Hours for the KWEC over Spring Break are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. Admission is free.
Programs and dates for special activities are listed below. Unless otherwise noted, these are come-and-go events throughout the day.
Saturday, March 18 - “Marsh Madness” 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Explore the amazing variety of creatures that lurk under the water at Cheyenne Bottoms. FHSU graduate student Kaden Buer will take participants to the KWEC pond to capture and learn about its tiniest marsh residents: aquatic invertebrates.
These little guys are a surprisingly important piece of the Cheyenne Bottoms ecosystem. Rubber boots are provided, be prepared to get muddy.
Sunday, March 19 - “Kids Fun and Games” 1-5 p.m. Ever wonder how children in pioneer days entertained themselves? Bring the kids to learn what toys pioneer kids played with, the games they enjoyed, and just how lucky today’s kids are.
Monday, March 20 - “Wild Fashion Show” 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wild creatures showcase a huge variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Learn about fur, feathers, scales and skin. There will be lots to see and touch.
Tuesday, March 21 - “Fire! Fire!” 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fire is a vital part of many ecosystems. While wildfires can be dangerous, controlled burns are an important tool in a land manager’s toolbox. FHSU graduate student Justin Roemer will guide participants through the steps of a controlled burn, showing the tools and protective equipment that make it possible.
Wednesday, March 22 - “Marsh Madness, Take Two” 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Here’s another chance to explore the pond with FHSU graduate student Kaden Buer. (See March 18.)
Thursday, March 23 - “Phenomenal Plants” 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Join FHSU graduate student Gentry Holaday to take a closer look at some of the fascinating plant species that grow at Cheyenne Bottoms. Learn about some of the botanical natives found in the wetlands, and the importance of managing aggressive invaders like Phragmites.
Friday, March 24 - “Nice Mussels“ 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many different species of mussels are found right here in Kansas. FHSU graduate student Andrew Karlin will introduce participants to our native mussel species, along with important information about invasive species creeping into waterways.
Friday, March 24 - “Turtle Tots-Leaping Lizards” 10-11 a.m. Preschoolers (age 3-5) will get an up close look at scaly skinks and other lizards during “Leaping Lizards!” Through stories, activities and making a craft, children will discover lizards. There is limited space for this program, so register by March 22 by calling the KWEC.
Saturday, March 25 - “Spring Break in the Wild” Learn all about the plants and animals that make their home along the KWEC nature trail during a guided nature walk with KWEC Educator Jean Aycock. Nature walks will start each hour, on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will last about half an hour. Dress for the weather.
Sunday, March 26 - “KWEC Craft Workshop Series – Paper Making” 2-5 p.m. Paper making is an ancient art, going back over 2,000 years. Learn the principles of paper making and how to add a creative touch with natural materials. Participants will take home their own paper, perfect for special letters, scrapbooking, or other crafts. There is limited space for this program, so register by calling the KWEC.
For more information visit wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu or call the KWEC office, 877-243-9268.