Camp’N Canyons Program promotes learning about canyon habitat

Caroline Sabin
North Platte, Neb.
Photos By Caroline SabinCindy Munter, Nebraska Games and Parks Fish and Wildlife Biologist, helps participants decipher clues during the Critter Scene Investigation session held during the Camp 'N Canyons program. It was a week-end of studying life in a canyon habitat.

It may look like a plain old cow pasture, but there’s more to it than that. Youth had a chance to explore a canyon habitat by participating in the Camp’N Canyons program sponsored by Lincoln-McPherson County Extension and 4-H, Pheasants Forever, Quails Forever, and Nebraska Game & Parks. The week-end event held June 4-5, 2011, was made possible by a grant through Pheasants Forever-Loess Canyons Nature Tour which promotes learning about animals and plants in a canyon habitat.

Cathy Weaver, Lincoln-McPherson Extension 4-H School Enrichment coordinator, said, “This was a family event to get families out together to enjoy nature and see what’s in your own backyard.”

The 13 families made a total of 19 participants who came mostly from surrounding counties, but there was one group that came from Lancaster County. Families were put in groups to participate in the learning sessions.

This first time event was planned to give families time together in nature, but the structure and placement of the sessions built in some practice at problem solving, cooperation and team building. The groups had to use GPS to find each learning station. The learning stations focused on observation skills and interactive learning to understand the lives and needs of various animal groups or their habitat.

Presenters for the sessions were:

Mammals-Evan Shike, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Pheasants Foreve

Reptiles-Mark Morten, Crane Trust, Wood River, Neb.

Bird Watching, Beetles -T.J. Walker, Dist Mgr., Nebraska Game and Parks

Critter Scene Investigation-Emily Munter-Fish & Wildlife Biologist, Nebraska Game and Parks

Flowers/Grasses-Shelly Taylor-Range Management Specialist-Natural Resources Conservation Service

Wildlife calls-Andy Houser-Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist-Pheasants Forever

Bats-Dr. Keith Geluso-Biology professor-UNK

Archery- William and Mary Kate Hills, Cathy Weaver-Geocaching

Camouflage-Shane Max, Conservation Technician

Bob and Rosie McFarland provided the canyon site for learning and exploration.

Trent Reece of North Platte, went on the camping adventure accompanied by his mother, Mary Reece, and a friend, Jake Johnson. As an 11 year old already very interested in the outdoors, this was an experience that not just expanded his knowledge, but also motivated him to keep discovering after he was home. Interesting facts he learned during the session about American Burying Beetles and their living habits inspired him to more closely explore his own backyard. In his hunting around near their yard, he found a turtle.

Jake Johnson of North Platte, enjoyed the archery session. He came away with more than a lesson in archery and a wish to be an archery instructor. He remembered the words of the instructor telling them that if you want to do well at something, you can never give up.

“It was amazing how many educational activities were packed into a day and a half,” said Mary Reece. “The adults gained as much from it as the kids.”