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Field day brings learning to life

By Susan Collins-Smith
MSU Ag Communications

image of youth preparing to shoot arrows at a target
Leanne Wagner McGee, Newton County Extension agent, looks on as Nia McCalphia and Jemariaus Ford prepare to shoot arrows at their targets during the Wildlife Youth Day at the Coastal Plains Experiment Station Nov. 16. (MSU Ag Communications/Susan Collins-Smith)
youth get an up-close look at an Eastern hog-nosed snake
Nakita Johnson (left) and Jada Hardy get an up-close look at an Eastern hog-nosed snake, one of the state’s non-venomous species, during the Wildlife Youth Day at the Coastal Plains Experiment Station Nov. 16. (MSU Ag Communications/Susan Collins-Smith)

NEWTON – Newton County sixth-graders got a close look at some of Mississippi’s wildlife on Nov. 16.

Mississippi State University’s Coastal Plain Branch Experiment Station held its fourth annual Wildlife Youth Day. Students rotated through four educational stations, including archery technique and safety, Mississippi mammals, Mississippi reptiles and amphibians and a forestry-themed obstacle course. The students viewed live and preserved mammals, reptiles and amphibians. They also watched a bird dog training demonstration.

The event aims to link the students’ classroom studies to Mississippi’s natural resources. Event coordinator Adam Rohnke said it helps move students from a two-dimensional textbook or photograph to a three-dimensional sensory experience.

“Science teachers are covering many of the topics we addressed here today. With these activities, we are able to bring those concepts off the pages of the book and into real life for the students,” said Rohnke, an Extension associate with the College of Forest Resources’ Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. “It also allows us to partner with our local schools and bring the university’s resources and expertise to the table to enhance the local curriculum.”

Sharon Hurst, a science and social studies teacher at Newton Middle School, said the field day is a great learning experience for her students.

“The material that has been covered here today goes right along with our curriculum,” said Hurst. “Right now we are studying Newton’s laws of motion and different types of animals. There is no way I would be able to afford all of these visuals for my students. It really helps students when the concepts we learn about in books can be experienced.”

Leslie Burger, conservation educator in MSU’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, presented information on Mississippi mammals. She said the event gives students a personal connection to nature.

“The field day is a chance to reinforce what teachers have been teaching in the classroom,” said Burger, who is also an Extension associate with MSU’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center. “But actually seeing the animals or representations of animals makes it relevant to them. It is also an opportunity to relate to the subject on an emotional level, and when that happens, people feel more connected to the subject. Hopefully that fosters the desire to know more and more.”

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Released: November 20, 2012
Contact: Adam Rohnke, (601) 857-2284

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