Mandy Kern, program specialist at the KWEC, began visiting schools at the end of August and will continue through the end of next week. Visits were scheduled to Ellinwood Middle School and St. Joseph Catholic School in Ellinwood, Central Kansas Christian Academy and Great Bend Middle School in Great Bend, Smoky Valley Middle School in Lindsborg and Stafford Middle School in Stafford.
“World Shorebirds Day,” celebrated annually on Sept. 6, was created to raise public awareness about the need to protect shorebirds and their habitat for ongoing shorebird research, monitoring and conservation.
“I want youth to realize what an amazing gem and natural resource we have in Cheyenne Bottoms,” Kern said. “Thousands of shorebirds pass through each year and I’m thankful The Nature Conservancy in Kansas, and especially Rob Penner, Cheyenne Bottoms and Avian Programs Manager, provided me with the opportunity to impact over 520 area students.”
The program covers shorebirds’ migration and the importance of resting areas like the Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Students are introduced to a variety of shorebirds who migrate through the Cheyenne Bottoms, study mounts and sculpt various habitats shorebirds use during their migration.
“Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest interior marsh in the United States and it has been designated as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention. As many as 500,000 shorebirds pass through Cheyenne Bottoms in years with favorable habitat conditions,” Kern said.
Teachers participating in the program received a tub of supplies including books, lesson plans, posters, field guides, a bird feeder, games and student hand-outs courtesy of The Nature Conservancy.
About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a global environmental nonprofit that works to conserve the lands and waters across the world. In Kansas, the nonprofit has permanently protected 139,470 acres including five preserves open to the public. They manage about 8,000 of the 41,000 acre Cheyenne Bottoms basin.
The KWEC partners with many agencies including, Fort Hays State, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and The Nature Conservancy. The KWEC educates the public about wetland communities, their importance, conservation and restoration needs through interactive exhibits and interpretation, programs, outreach, and partnerships with cooperating stakeholders.