June 1, 2009

Earthday Ed Events
Prarie Fork Conservation Area
April 22, 2009

Well April was full of educational Earthday events. The one that really topped my list for the month however was an Ed Event at Prarie Fork Conservation Area near Williamsburg. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, Missouri Department of Conservation & University of Missouri (I'm guessing here) teamed up to organize around 650 4th-6th graders from area schools. Groups of 20 kids each went around to booths with educational/hands-on topics in Praries, Woodlands, Wetlands & Streams, to Soils. It was awesome!

The day started off when fellow Stream Team Assistants Pam, Katrina & I got an early start and headed to the nearby Whetstone Conservation Area to catch some live macro-invertebrates for our booth. It was a beautiful clear Spring morning, and I must say, the Whetstone C.A. was just amazing! There were Bluebells & Wild Sweet Williams blooming in all they're glory, Ferns, Wild Ginger, & huge swaths of Blood Root growing along a clear & cool babbling stream. I was in heaven.

We started doing the riffle dance in various locations along the stream trying to get the biggest diversity of critters possible. Katrina moved us to a larger section of the stream. Her mission was to find the biggest crawdads to put in the little kiddie pool we brought so that the kids could pick them up. We got tons of great bugs out of Whetstone including the biggest Cranefly Larvae I have ever had the pleasure of seeing (& touching). They are super squishy and I got a kick out of getting the students later that day to pick it up.

We rolled into Prarie Fork to set up amonst 20 or so other exhibitors, luckily I dropped Pam & Katrina off with all of the stuff for our display before I got River Relief's big ol' van stuck in the mud. I was way out in the middle of this field away from everyone where they told us to park, luckily a really nice guy from MDC came along and helped me out of my pickle. It took us about 20 minutes! But I made it back before the kids arrived and got to our booth.

Pam, Katrina, Lea & I ended up having to set up 3 different stations with the live macros because these were the biggest groups of kids (20 at a time) that I have ever had to deal with! The crawdad pool is always the most popular, and the kids just loved getting to play in water and with live critters in general. There were a few screamers, but mostly just inquisitive kids having fun. I think I just about had as much fun as those kids. What a great day!

A huge thanks goes out to the organizers. Having done big Ed Events with Missouri River Relief in the past, this is one of the best organized events I have ever been to. An even bigger thanks goes out to Pat Jones for donating her land as a conservation area so that people big & small can come out and learn about Praries, Wetlands, Lakes, Streams, Woodlands, Savannahs & Soils.

For more fun photos, check out our photo gallery.

Melanie Cheney
Americorps Stream Team Assistant
Missouri River Relief

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