Wetland Learners Project
Jayhawk Audubon Society has always placed an emphasis on educational efforts. We were happy to fund and supply to area teachers the Audubon Adventures resources offered by the National Audubon Society for many years. However, with changing curriculum and education standards, many teachers no longer felt these resources were fitting in with their needs. With fewer teachers taking advantage of the resources for the classroom we set about coming up with ways to reinvent our educational activities.
Thus was born the Wakarusa Wetland Learners Project (now shortened to the Wetland Learners Project). In conjunction with Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance a project was put together which would provide field trips to the area schoolsfree of charge ! With Jayhawk Audubon Society covering the cost of bus fare, leadership from Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance, and volunteer facilitators from both organizations as well as other organizations and individuals from the community, the project was born in 2006. Grant funding from the Douglas County Community Foundation/ Elizabeth Schultz Environmental Fund allowed the project to get off to a healthy start with 11 of the 15 USD 497 elementary schools taking advantage of the project.
The project continues to grow and expand today and has proven to be a success with other sources asking to take advantage of the project and a variety of organizations offering their support in volunteers and funding. The growing list of organizations participating includes Kansas Biological Survey, Grassland Heritage Foundation, KU Environs, the Baker Wetlands team of Roger and Jon Boyd, Sierra Club, Save the Wetlands Organization, KU Theater for Young People, Lied Center, and KU Herpetology Department. Additional grant funding from the Douglas County Community Foundation/ Elizabeth Schultz Environmental Fund, along with a grant from The North Face/Planet Explore, will ensure the project is allowed to build on the strong foundation already established, as well as explore new options to offer the project to home school groups, private schools, and other community youth organizations.
To date, nearly 2,000 students, teachers, and chaperones have taken part in the 31 trips completed. With continued support from the community, our partner organizations, and some generous grant partners the project will continue to grow and offer excellent environmental education opportunities to the youth of our area free of charge!Many thanks to the coordinator of the project, Sandy Sanders, without whom the project would not be the success it is today! Find out how you can help as a volunteer facilitator or sponsor by contacting Chuck Herman via e-mail at hermansnuthouse@earthlinknet.