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Learning Comes Naturally to Oklahoma Fourth Graders

Learning Comes Naturally to Oklahoma Fourth Graders

Clay Salisbury, NRCS Soil Scientist
Clay Salisbury, NRCS Soil Scientist in Clinton, helps the students understand how much we rely on soil to grow food we eat, and how soil provides cleaner air are and water through plants that grow in soil.

Students gather around a fish aquarium
Students gathered around a fish aquarium provided by the J.A. Manning Fish hatchery. Representatives from the Hatchery helped the kids identify a variety of fish found in Oklahoma’s rivers, lakes and ponds.

Donna Phillips, Earth Team Volunteer
Donna Phillips, Earth Team Volunteer and volunteer at the Wildlife Refuge, has the students build a water cycle bracelet, with each bead representing a step in the water cycle.

Gary Grose, of Tipton Valley Honey Company
Gary Grose, of Tipton Valley Honey Company visited with the kids about how honey bees make honey and their importance in the pollination of plants and flowers in our communities.

Comanche County Conservation District Manager David Kuntz and Comanche County District Conservationist Kirk Schreiner
Comanche County Conservation District Manager David Kuntz and Comanche County District Conservationist Kirk Schreiner cook a barbecue chicken lunch to serve to the dozens of volunteers. They prepared a different meal each day as a way to say “thank you” for the time and effort put forth by everyone involved.

Spring Fever has been in full swing in classrooms across Oklahoma. The nice days have both teachers and students begging to be outside instead of stuck inside working on lessons from their school books.

The Comanche County Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Lawton found a way to combine learning and being outside.

The beautiful Wichita Mountains provided the perfect setting as over 900 fourth graders from southern Oklahoma took part in the Fourth Annual Natural Resources Journey held at the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge the week of April 29 through May 2.

Over the course of the four days, school buses from 20 elementary schools rolled into the Environmental Education Center at Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge for a full day of outdoor education.

Each day, students traveled along a nature trail where they spent 20 minutes at each of the nine learning stations on the Natural Resources Journey.

Representatives from Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the USDA-NRCS, and others set up learning stations.

Clay Salisbury, soil scientist for NRCS, gave a demonstration that showed the students how big of a role soil plays in our every day lives – from minerals we need to food we eat.

Other stations included interactive and fun presentations on water quality, Ag in the Classroom, bicycle safety, wildlife, fish, fire safety, plants, and farm animals.

“We appreciate this day so much,” said a fourth grade teacher from Cache. “This is my fourth year to bring students here. They just love it and get so much out of it.”

One of the students favorite stations was where snake handler Ron Orf, with the Apache Rattlesnake Association, showed them various live snakes and provided information about how to respond when they see a snake and what to do when someone is snake bit.

“We’ve learned a lot of really cool stuff,” said one Cache fourth grader. “I can’t wait to go home and tell my parents some of this stuff. They’re going to think I’m really smart!”

“We are proud to be able to offer this opportunity to local schools,” stated Kirk Shreiner, NRCS district conservationist in Lawton. “We couldn’t do it without all the great volunteers and our district board’s involvement. We really value the cooperation of all the other agencies and partners that spent the whole week here to provide the kids with this unique learning experience.”

By Dee Ann Littlefield, public affairs specialist, Waurika, OK
NRCS May 2008

Last Modified: 05/22/2008

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