— Three hundred and fifty Barton County second graders flocked to the Kansas Wetlands Education Center on Thursday for the 2nd annual Wetlands Education Day to learn about the wild, wonderful wetlands in Barton County. It was hosted by the Friends of Cheyenne Bottoms.
The students migrated to learning centers to study about our feathered friends in the central flyway.
The purpose of the day was "to inform our own children of the great resources we have at Cheyenne Bottoms," said Karen La Pierre, president of the FOCB. "It is important to connect our kids to the outdoors, which offers unique lessons that cannot be learned from television or video games."
The students learned about the water cycle and the importance of conservation and prevention of groundwater pollution from Libby Albers, educator for the WATER Center in Wichita. "There is no new water," said Albers. "The same water is made over and over again. These rain drops (here today) might be from the Gulf of Mexico. Don’t waste water."
She explained the different parts of the water cycle, from groundwater to glaciers and lakes, and snow and ice. The children then made a bead bracelet with each color representing such things as soil, ice and oceans.
The children also ran an obstacle course, walked the nature trail, learned about the sounds wildlife makes, did a scavenger hunt and learned about the ecosystem at Cheyenne Bottoms.
The ecosystem center explained about the life cycle of animals. "The station conveyed several concepts - adaptations, consumers and producers and food chains - using the CB wetlands ecosystem as an example," said KWEC Educator Pam Martin. "They also received information on each organism living in Cheyenne Bottoms that we covered, from plants and blood worms to turtles and mink - who were the producers and who were the consumers." The children dressed up at various animals or vegetation.
During the walk down the trail, the students learned to identify various types of nests including a pack rat nest. "Don’t park your car near a pack rat nest," said KWEC Educator Eric Giesing.
In the great hall, the kids discovered that the eggs of birds come in an amazing number of sizes and beautiful colors, ranging from blue to brown to white.
The groundwork for the Friends of Cheyenne Bottoms was laid by the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau. Members of the 2009 Golden Belt Foundation Community Leadership Class were Thompson, Karen La Pierre, Kristy Nissily and Marcia Westhoff, who turned the vision into a reality beginning in October of 2009 with formation of a board of directors. The first major project of the FOCB has been the education day