This article appeared in the October 6th, 2005 issue of the Highmore
Herald, v123 no6, and is reprinted here by the kind permission of the
Highmore Herald of Highmore, South Dakota.
The text and the photos are copyright © by the
Fifth, sixth graders go on research tour
Highmore Elementary students in the fifth and sixth grades spent the afternoon of September 21 researching the June Harter Waterfowl Production Area near Highmore.
Harris Hoistad with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Huron, served as the guide and presented various experimental sights to the students.
Wildlife Service representative Hoistad visited the classroom the day before this outing to talk about animal adaptation. He displayed a board containing the feet of a dozen different birds. The students observed the webbed feet the waterfowl, the claws of the dryland birds and the longer claws and back claw of the nocturnal birds of prey. He also discussed how coloration of wildlife helps in adapting to their surroundings at different times of the year.
Upon arrival at the Waterfowl Production Area, the group was asked to form a circle, then sit on the knees of the person behind them. Many ended up on the ground and discovered their circle (habitat) was too large. The circle was then brought in closer to complete the assignment. Hoistad compared this to how wildlife works together to keep the "Balance of Nature".
The group then moved out on the prairie to view the landscape of gentle hills and a wetland. Although the wetland was dry at this time, in a good year of snowfall and rain, it would naturally fill up.
Hoistad then presented a demonstration on pond water, which appeared pretty clear when first observed. He then stirred up the container, bringing up dirt, silt and plant life from the bottom. He then filtered the water through a can containing a sponge filter to show how the sediment is trapped in the filter to clear up the water, comparable to how the wetland works. The next viewing area displayed pans of pond water where students were able to observe the various insects and pond life essential to the diet of various birds and fish.
Moving to the next station, the students checked their eyesight to see if they could find four waterfowl camoflauged in the tall grasses. It was determined that the more colorful male birds were easier to spot then the more drab colored females, thus protecting them when nesting.
The students were then divided into three groups (flocks) and each student was given a (beak) pair of tweezers to hunt for food in their particular habitat. Students came back to the flock with marshmallows and macaroni. As each group checked their food supply, it was determined that the marshmallows, which showed up the best, were really a poisonous food. The groups went back again, this time only looking for the green macaroni. It took much longer to find the appropriate food, showing how wildlife has to move to find its food supply.
At the final station, students lined up and were asked to find eleven items hidden across an area. Some items were not camouflaged very well while others seemed to blend in with their surroundings.
The last activity was a race to a habitat. There were four habitats and students ran to choose one. Some of the habitats were overcrowded while others were very comfortable. On the second try, students were instructed to be able to have one foot on the habitat, and as in nature, the groups seemed to even out, showing the "Balance of Nature".
The students and teachers appreciated the opportunity to visit the June Harter Waterfowl Production Area with Harris Hoistad, who presented the students with pens, pencils, bookmarks and tootsie rolls.
This page was last updated November 1, 2005.