Sunday, August 24, 2014

Missouri Department of Conservation

So during our recent trip to the state fair, we ran into the building for the Missouri Department of Conservation, and for Jeremy and me, it was the highlight of our day. We are so proud to support such an amazing organization that cares for and monitors Missouri's agriculture, lakes, rivers, streams, forests, and wildlife. They also provide free education about Missouri's wildlife and offer endless programs on hunting and fishing. If you are an outdoor family like us, you are likely benefiting from the work of your state's Department of Conservation maybe without even realizing it. Seriously, look for the web page for your state's department and I bet you'll be surprised to see how many free things you can get and do.

Now, back to our experience at the fair. We were so excited when we saw this sign. We had kept our eyes out for their building all day, but hadn't really sought it out. We happened upon it when we took a detour from the carnival to see some animals.

There were 2 buildings as well as an outdoor gallery of live animals. This aquarium was in the larger of the 2 buildings. The building was full of free handouts, hunting and fishing information and nice, informative people. We had a great conversation with a man who told me about resources for my classroom that I didn't know about. I've already put in an order for free posters.

The smaller building was all hands on centers. This was a cool sandbox with lots of different animal print stamps. Kids and adults all seemed to have fun with it. 

Lex is sporting his stickers they were handing out. We also picked up some for Eli.

Here is Peanut the Turtle. At first, we just thought it was a cool looking turtle, then we read her story. When she was little, she swam through a plastic six pack ring that somebody had improperly disposed of. As she grew, her shell grew around the ring. When she was found at around 9 years old, she still had the ring around her shell. She is now a spokesturtle for No MOre Trash.

So a few weeks ago, I wrote about our hike to Three Creeks, where we happened upon a Northern Watersnake.  A few days after our trip, we stopped by Runge Nature Center with the kids to look for a tree identification guide. While there, we saw an aquarium that was home to a Northern Watersnake, but the snake wasn't there. It said the snake had gone to the state fair. So one of our missions was to find the Northern Watersnake.

I promise you, I took a picture of the watersnake, but when I got home, this was all I had on my camera. I don't know what happened to the snake picture, but I will say that the snake they had was about 1/4 of the size of the one we saw. It was small in comparison.

A venomous copperhead. There would be no mistaking this snake if I came across it in the wild. Those colors are so distinct!

Here is the FREE magazine that both of our boys get from the Department of Conservation every 2 months. It's full of fun articles and games for kids, as well as scavenger hunts and recipes. Lex especially, loves to get a piece of mail with his own name on it. I've also ordered a classroom set, completely free.

When we saw the snake on our hike recently, we came home and used the Department of Conservation website to identify it. Here's the paper version of the resource we used. Now we have something to carry in our hiking backpack.

Same thing for the turtles.

We talked for a long time to one of the volunteers. Lex told him all about a lot of the animals we had seen recently and the man helped identify some resources that we didn't know about. He gave this magazine/pamphlet to Lex and encouraged us to do a night hike so we could look for some nocturnal animals. I love hiking as much as the next person, but even that sounds a little bit scary to me. We will see. 

So there's my plug for our Department of Conservation. I hope you take advantage of yours! 

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