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Downs Prairie Natural Area Serves as Classroom for 4-H Students

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Tuesday, April 30, 2019

This past weekend, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission assisted with the statewide 4-H contest in Hazen, hosting approximately 100 students, families, and 4-H leaders for hands-on learning at Downs Prairie Natural Area.

Rebecca McPeake, with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES) contacted the ANHC earlier this year about assisting with the statewide 4-H contest in Hazen. Downs Prairie NA is located near Hazen.

The ANHC helped with programs for approximately 90 Junior 4-H students, ages 9-13. Leslie Patrick, ANHC Outreach specialist, gave an educational presentation about animal species of the prairie (past and present), prairie plants, the role of fire in prairie land management, and the soil layers of the Grand Prairie in the morning to four rotations of students. She also facilitated a “Prairie Bingo” game and a tallgrass prairie quiz.

After lunch, 4-H juniors, families, and 4-H leaders rotated through three stations on Downs Prairie Natural Area. The stations, presented by teams of ANHC staff members, included Prairie Mammals, Birds, and Butterflies with ANHC Land Management Specialist Ryan Leeson and ANHC Grants Coordinator, Samantha Scheiman; Prairie Plants with ANHC Chief of Research Theo Witsell; and Prescribed Fire Benefits and Procedures with ANHC Stewardship Coordinator Brian Mitchell and ANHC Land Management Specialist Rob Lacy. There was even an impromptu talk about ornate box turtles with Theo, after some of the students found two 3-toed box turtles at the natural area.

After rotating through the stations, the students participated in an egg hunt for “Fun Butterfly Facts” written by Samantha. Students exchanged their eggs for a Backyard Bird or Snake guidebook, provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Leslie organized and coordinated the ANHC’s participation in the event.





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