Yesterday we visited the Webster County Conservation Center for a morning field trip. Our oldest daughter had an interview appointment with one of their Naturalists, Karen. We had called earlier in the week to ask if someone would be available for an interview on the conservation of the brown bat and importance of their role in Webster County, Iowa. You see a few days before, our oldest had read an article on the matter and decided it was of great importance. She then decided that she wanted to do an 4H project on the matter. The last few days have been filled with research and amazing discoveries in the world of bats. Our daughter has taken over the role of teacher on the subject, educating the rest of the family on her new-found knowledge. For example, did you know that bats have excellent hearing? I didn’t. Honest to goodness, this farm girl grew up with the notion that bats had terrible hearing. Well…you learn something new everyday!

While our eldest was conducting her interview, the rest of the children and I explored the Conservation Center. Taking in the many animals furs, fossils, eggs displays and taxidermied animal species. We discussed how Iowa used to be covered with prairie and how rapidly the land was converted to farm fields with large immigration rates in the 1800s. We also discussed the impact this had on the ecological system and what we can be done to restore the health to the land. The children particularly got a kick out of the sand table, in which they could pretend to be on an archeological dig and uncover fossils. They also enjoyed observing the fox snake and salamander.

Upon the conclusion of the interview, Karen graciously chatted with the other children about the various exhibits, previous field trips, what animals they have caught recently, the owl that has taken nest in our backyard and how to assemble bat boxes. I was amazed at the amount of classes available through the Conservation Center that we were previously unaware of. Karen mentioned that they had recently held a box building workshop (birds/bats).

Overall it was a very informative field trip. Our daughter walked away with an extensive amount of information for her 4H project as well as a higher level of respect for those who preserve our local parks. I think it can be easy for us to assume that the people we see out mowing laws or trimming trees are ‘uneducated’. It was a welcomed reminder that we should never assume we know anyone and that we should NEVER judge.

On the drive home our eldest read through the 2012 calendar of events and marked those of interest to our family. Our field trip calendar is now MUCH fuller, courtesy of the Conservation Center. If you live in and around Webster County and are interested in what programs are offered, click HERE.



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