Exploring big-river ecology near the big city—that’s what the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is all about. Located in north St. Louis County, it gives visitors an intimate view of the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. A mosaic of shallow wetlands, bottomland hardwoods, prairie and cropland attract resident and migratory wildlife, including bald eagles, waterfowl, trumpeter swans, northern harriers, indigo buntings, gold finches and woodpeckers. The Howard and Joyce Wood Education and Visitor Center provides programs and houses exhibits. Visit this fall to watch migrating birds and learn more about the big-river area’s ever-changing landscape.
Outdoors is the best place for students to learn how nature works. This premise shaped the Department’s new Learning Outdoors Schools, a statewide conservation education program that rolls out this month. “Teachers helped us develop this, so we’re confident that it will meet their needs, both in the classroom and in the field,” said Lorna Domke, the Department’s Outreach and Education Division chief. After a year of testing the curriculum and its field activities, one Missouri middle school teacher wrote, “MDC resources are great, a teacher’s best friend.” Key elements of the program include free instructional units that meet current testing needs, as well as grants for field trips and teaching materials. The first unit, available this month, teaches 6th through 8th graders about aquatic ecosystems via such activities as fishing and stream exploration. Units for elementary and high school grades will follow in 2008 and 2009. The elementary curriculum will focus on wildlife and habitat, and high school students will learn about ecology and wildlife management. Educators interested in the Learning Outdoors Schools Program should contact their local conservation education consultants and outdoor skills specialists.
The Department of Conservation and the Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy will hold the National Cave and Karst Management Symposium in St. Louis, Oct. 8 through 12.
The Monday field trip and workshops are open to educators. The Oct. 9 panel discussion titled “Managing Caves and Karst in the 21st Century” is open to the public at the Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center.
Powder Valley will also exhibit cave photos throughout October.
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