Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lots of little visitors to the Refuge

The kids are arriving

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, lots of school kids study the history of American Indians.  Since our Wildlife Refuge includes a historic Indian mound belonging to the Santee Indians, we’re a popular location for field trips, and we had a couple of groups visit in the days before Thanksgiving.

Our first school group included Pre-schoolers, 1st graders and 7th graders.  Marcie, the Refuge Manager, had an itinerary planned for the morning that included time in the Visitor Center, a nature hike and a visit to the Indian Mound.  She called in almost all of the volunteers for help – Maria and I were assigned to the Visitor Center, Tom and Mike were in charge of the nature hike, and Marcie and Frank would talk to the groups about the history of the Indian Mound.  After all three groups had been to each of the three locations, they would all gather on the deck at the Visitor Center for lunch.  Marcie’s son was on of our little visitors, so I helped her out by taking pictures.

We started in the Visitor Center with the entire group, where Marcie welcomed everyone and explained the logistics of the day.

Marcie welcoming the group

After she finished, the groups headed out.  Our first group was the Preschool class.

The animals were a big hit with them, and they had a picture scavenger hunt to help them spot all the animals on display in the Visitor Center.


Petting the River Otter











The alligator skull was another favorite,

The gator skull was very popular

as well as the rest of the “touch table”.

Serious about exploring











They made their own headresses


They had made indian headdresses and brought them with them to wear on the nature walk and visit to the Indian Mound – so cute!







After they finished the scavenger hunt, we had coloring pages to keep them occupied.

Art table












Before leaving for their nature hike, the group studied the mural in the conference room, where they spotted as many animals as they could.

Finding animals in the mural

Then Tom arrived to take them outside for the nature hike.


Time for a Nature Hike!

Mike and Tom showed them the garden first, and then took them for a walk on a short trail that follows the edge of the lake.  At the end of the trail, the bus would pick them up and take them to the Indian Mound.

Meanwhile, back at the Visitor Center, the 7th graders had arrived. 




Maria had an art project for them to do out on the deck – involving pine cones and glitter, so it was a good thing she had it set up outside!  Inside we had a more involved scavenger hunt for them to complete.

When it was time for them to head outside for a hike, Tom and Mike decided they needed a longer route, so in addition to the short nature trail they decided they would continue on to one of the hiking trails that follows Ft. Watson Rd.

Tom leading the 7th Graders

Tom and Mike somehow managed to get lost in the woods, and of course the 7th graders were thrilled with that!  They eventually found their way back, though, but the kids had something to talk about!!

Our last group in the Visitor Center was the 1st graders.  Like the younger ones, they enjoyed the touch table, especially the alligator skull,


and the coloring pages.


Maria with the 1st Graders


Maria showed several of them the wingspan chart on the wall, where they could measure their own “wingspan” . . .








and it made for a cute photo op with their teacher.

With their teacher

The other groups arrived and everybody headed out to the deck for lunch.

Time for lunch!










Tom sat with his new friends.

Tom and his new little friends

Some of the kids continued to explore,

Looking out at the lake

and others just relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful day.

Frank helping with lunch















The kids had a really nice time exploring the refuge, and all of us volunteers enjoyed spending time with them.  It’s always fun to have kids around!


  1. WOW...all those SMILES...what FUN!!!!

  2. It's always fun watching the reaction on the child's face as they learn something new and it suddenly sinks in.
    Great Job.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.


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