Cheldelin Students Experience Wetlands

by Tom Kaye — last modified Oct 16, 2013

Outdoor Experience at the Jackson-Frazier Wetland

Sixth graders from Cheldelin Middle School in Corvallis, Oregon atend Outdoor Experience at Jackson-Frazier Wetland.

Sixth graders from Cheldelin Middle School in Corvallis, Oregon atend Outdoor Experience at Jackson-Frazier Wetland.

Sixth graders from Cheldelin Middle School in Corvallis walked out of the classroom at the beginning of the school year last month, trading classroom ceilings for cloudy skies. IAE staff organized their field trip to Jackson-Frazier Wetland as part of Outdoor Experience 2013, in which students receive environmental education and have a chance to bond with one another at the beginning of the school year.

IAE’s Ecological Education staff organized five field stations scattered around the wetland boardwalk. Students wove native baskets made of cattails and rush while learning how the Kalapuya Indians used native materials in the Willamette Valley. Volunteers explained bird adaptations while students examined real bird museum specimens such as a Virginia rail, belted kingfisher and sharp-shinned hawk. Students then created their own mythical bird showing specialized beaks and feet, using their artistry to give the natural world a ‘new’ member.

At the botany station, Ecological Education Coordinator Larkin Guenther talked about food webs and engaged students in forming their own food chains using native plants and animals found in the wetland. Students enhanced their observation skills and creativity while participating in the journaling station. They drew a landscape picture, a close up rendition of an object, and then a microscopic view using a hand lens. And students put their dodging skills to test as they ducked a cougar while playing “Oh Deer;” a game which examined population dynamics and how animals use resources.

Cheldelin Middle School science teacher, Stefni Stephens, was pleased with her students’ reaction to the outdoor engagement. “While grading their journal pages, it became evident that they were exposed to information that is on my list of things to teach! It is helping so much with those standards back in the classroom!”

“It is a joy to see how students further their relationship to the wetlands. This will continue next spring when they will plant native species in a restoration project,” said Stacy Moore, Ecological Education Director for the Institute for Applied Ecology.

IAE appreciates the generous support of Willamette Habitat Restoration, Gray Family Trust, Oregon Parks Foundation, and volunteers and board members that make this exceptional program possible.

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