CHEYENNE BOTTOMS — Twenty-six Hoisington High School art students had the opportunity to visit the Kansas Wetlands Education Center at Cheyenne Bottoms on Thursday to study art in nature, and the ceramic display by Fort Hays State University students.
Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest marsh in the interior of the United States, comprising of 41,000 acres. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks owns 20,000 acres, The Nature Conservancy owns 8,000, and 13,000 acres is owned by private individuals.
"Most people have no idea how important it is. This place is so unqiue," said Curtis Wolf, manager of KWEC, to the students."There have been 335 species of birds documented at CB."
He told the students about Barton Community Colleges live video feed which pans the Bottoms daily. However, winter is not the best time to see birds, although bald eagles, hawks and herons are still present. Bald eagles feed on sick and dead ducks.
CB sits on the North American Central Flyway, and 45 percent of North American shorebirds stop there. In addition, only 30 miles away is Quivira National Wildlife Refuge which is a saltwater marsh.
Art Instructor Christina Lamoureaux planned the field trip, "because of the connection with art and nature. There are lots of natural images to look at for resources."
The class is currently working on creating natural artwork.
"They were really pleased," said Lamoureaux. "They didn’t realize the water was so big or even that it (KWEC) was there. We have an awesome resource in our district."