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New educator at KWEC
new kl KWEC educator
Jean Aycock, the new educator at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, stands in the front of the grasslands behind the educator center. Although the Bottoms is currently dry, Aycock said that some invertebrates, which provide food for many birds, will go back into the life cycle when it rains.. - photo by KAREN LA PIERRE

BARTON COUNTY — The new educator at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, Jean Aycock, is excited about her new job and is ready to begin teaching children and adults about wetlands.
“I’m enjoying it here. I’m really excited because of the Bottoms with the shorebird migration,” said Aycock. “I’ve always wanted to get into outdoor education. Teaching practical things is where my heart is.”
Having grown up in Poplar Bluff, Mo., she attended Mississippi State University and received her Bachelor of Science  in Forestry and Wildlife Management. She is in the process of receiving her master’s degree from the University of Arkansas, majoring in Wildlife Ecology. Her thesis is about shorebirds.
She has a few minor reservations about her transition from green, forested and mountainous areas to the Great Plains and snow, but has lived in a wide variety of climates. Aycock has no reservations about KWEC
“It is one of the nicest nature centers I’ve ever been in,” said Aycock. “The opportunity to work here is just fantastic.”
“I’m spending a lot of time looking out window with binoculars,” said Aycock. She is seeing species of birds that she has never seen before and has a check-off list, as do most serious birders.
She is also meeting people from across the world at KWEC, including a couple from England. “They enjoyed it a lot,” she said.
The educator would like to focus on environmental programs that are cohesive, hitting points that are important to be good citizens. She was a Girl Scout and would love to get a Scout Day to have the girls out to KWEC and do programs on meeting nights.
Of immediate focus is the 2nd grade Wetlands Education Day on Sept. 19, sponsored by the Friends of Cheyenne Bottoms. All of the second graders from Barton County will attend the day.
She also has some ideas about crafting nights at KWEC and dying with native plants. Also, Aycock is also appreciative of the contributions made by hunters and how important they are.
In her spare time, she likes to knit sweaters, sew and make jewelry. She is married to Matt Aycock. He is trying to attend graduate school, majoring in psychology or counseling. They have one dog and one cat.
KWEC has been short an educator this summer as the previous one left in the spring.
“We’re excited to have her here,” said Curtis Wolf, manager of KWEC. Although it took a while to find a replacement he is pleased about the new programming that will be offered.