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Conservation camp takes kids on wild adventure PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

The fifth annual backyard conservation camp kicked off the summer for more than 20 area youth, according to Haxtun Conservation District Manager Denise Swanson.

The conservation camp, consisting of students from fourth through eighth grades, is a huge amount of education and safety with a smattering of intrigue, adventure and some good old-fashioned fun.

This year the campers were lucky enough to learn from a cross-county cooperative of experts from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) and Pheasants Forever.

Overall theme was reptiles, amphibians and riparian habitats.

Jack Wieland, Shaylee Johnson and Satara Ehnes
check out a big bull snake they caught.

Camp was held at Watchorn Cabin in Sedgwick County June 1-2. The cabin sits next to a pond surrounded by a grove of cottonwood trees. There was rolling prairie all around—the perfect location to learn the tracks of the local population.

Joe Crowder, NRCS soil conservationist, led the group in a game of wildlife CSI. With CDOW Conservation Officer Jack Wieland’s guidance, the campers found several snakes, reptiles, frogs and toads.

Jerry Miller, Farm Bill biologist for Pheasants Forever, CDOW and NRCS, showed kids the riparian habitat and discussed the legacy of Aldo Leopold.

Respect for the habitat and animals was the predominate message of camp. The campers had many opportunities to see they could have a positive impact on the habitats of many species which in turn support them. This message was brought home with hands-on activities.

Gabi Gordon uses her Reptiles and Amphibians Guide to determine the kind
of turtle Jack Wieland brought to the backyard conservation camp.

District technician Tim Becker had the group making seed balls of pollinators, and Jack Wieland was the construction foreman of bird house building. Beth Ridder, WAE employee, gave campers a demonstration of sign language, taught them the signs of common reptiles and had them practices their skills through a competitive game of signing.

Finally, the study of the riparian habitat, or any habitat, would not be complete without learning about soils and vegetation.

Josh Saunders, NRCS rangeland specialist, showed the different types of plant root structures: annuals, perennials, forbs, shrubs and trees. Mike Moore, soil scientist for NRCS, showed how to test the soil to determine how much sand, loam and clay made up the core samples. Then he showed the kids how he takes a core sample with a Giddings soil probe.

Holyoke Enterprise June 30, 2011