Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary
Crane Scene Investigation
Early spring, along the Platte River in central Nebraska, the largest
concentration of Sandhill Cranes in the world gathers. In a six week period of time, over 600,000 cranes
stop to rest and refuel before heading on north to their nesting grounds. Iain Nicolson Audubon
Center at Rowe Sanctuary is situated in the heart of this spectacle. To help area students cultivate
an appreciation and sense of ownership to this phenomenon, Rowe Sanctuary developed the program
called C.S.I. (Crane Scene Investigations). Thousands of students have participated in this fun,
C.S.I. begins by exploring the morphology of these unique birds with hands-on, inquiry-based activities.
The students examine maps to determine migratory routes of cranes, and participate in an interactive
hike to one of the viewing blinds situated along the river. The students investigate the habitat needs
of cranes and the impact of humans on this habitat.
Once in the blind, students are given quiet time to engage their senses and take in all that is happening
on the river, in the fields, and in the sky. The program ends with a look at how cranes have become
part of the folklore of many cultures throughout history including our own.
For those groups that would like experience the cranes waking and lifting off the river in the
morning or coming back to the river in the evening, we add journaling activities to the experience.
Classes either arrive at the sanctuary at 6:30 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. Depending on the age of the group,
they may go to an outdoor blind or to our indoor viewing hall. Learn more
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Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center
Prairie Immersion Project
For a nine-week period between early September and early November,
over 1,300 students - from 57 classrooms in 13 Lincoln elementary schools - visit Spring Creek Prairie
during the Prairie Immersion Project, which is made possible by the Hugo Aspergren Trust and the
Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. The students, along with teachers and parents, discover the
diversity of life in a prairie by recording and releasing the different types of insects and bugs
collected in insect nets; as well as by examining small prairie plots with rulers, thermometers, and
magnifying lenses while describing the plant life growing within.
Students also re-create a time of Nebraska history by becoming members of a covered wagon excursion.
They take on different roles of a wagon train (family members, oxen, and the wagon itself), and they
work as teams hiking up the hill to the trail ruts from the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Cutoff to the
Oregon Trail. Quiet time is spent imagining a day in the life of a badger, and later, reflecting on
their discoveries, thoughts and feelings, they nestle in the tall grass with special cards and colored
pencils to create their own individual postcard from the prairie. Learn more
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Community Naturalists Program
Wyoming is vastly underserved in environmental education. One of the difficulties with building traditional nature centers in Wyoming is that there are very few population centers — only two over 50,000! — and big spaces between what cities there are. This makes it difficult to maintain a center that is able to reach many of the state’s students. Audubon Wyoming’s Community Naturalist Program promotes stewardship and brings the natural world into the classrooms of Wyoming by providing in-class and field study educational experience for students in Northeast, Southeast, and Central Wyoming using nearby school yards, parks, ponds, rivers, lakes, and the surrounding sagebrush steppe ecosystem that is unique to this area of the high plains. Audubon Wyoming’s education program fosters a unique opportunity that allows students the chance to get out of traditional learning environments to discover, explore, and experience the natural world and its ecology first hand using the many resources of Audubon Wyoming in a way that is both educational and fun. Learn more »
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