Goessel High biology students learn lessons in outdoor classroom

For two days and a night in early May, Goessel High School instructor

Don Dailey kept his 20 General Biology students in the best classroom

possible for studying ecology: the great outdoors.

The students and Dailey, along with three other adult sponsors, spent

May 3 and 4 canoeing 25 miles down the Blue River, then exploring the

marvels of nature in and around Tuttle Creek Dam and Park.

The excursion was funded with the help of a Marion County grant. Each

student contributed $5 toward the experience.

?So much of the time, they get their education out of a textbook,?

Dailey said about his motivation for planning such a trip. ?This was

an outdoor classroom, which gives them a lot ore experience and a lot

more freedom and time to do some of the things outside.?

The adventure began at Blue Rapids, about 20 miles north of Tuttle

Creek. From there, the students canoed their way down the Blue River,

observing various aspects of river ecology such as plants and trees,

animals and fish.

After they left the river, some students hiked in the area while

others stayed at the bus. Along the way, the hikers found some samples

of granite, which is rare for Kansas.

From there, the group went on to Tuttle Creek State Park. There they

pitched tents for the night and enjoyed a campfire, conversation and a

beautiful night.

The following morning, after preparing and eating breakfast, then

loading their camping gear on the bus, the group went on a mini-tour

of Tuttle Creek Dam and spillway. They heard from the Army Corps of

Engineers how the dam has helped to control flooding, then looked for

fossil remnants in the washout area.

?We talked about sedimentary rock, fossilized mud, and the various

ages of the rocks in the area and the types of fossils were were

finding,? Dailey said. ?The entire trip was centered around water

management and control, including flooding effects, and the people or

organizations responsible for these jobs.?

Students said their initial enthusiasm for the trip was about the

prospect of missing two days of traditional class and having fun with

friends. But when it was over, they said the trip was educational,


?While we were at Tuttle Creek Dam, that was probably the most stuff I

learned?about the marshes and how they use flood control to keep

Missouri out of trouble,? said Vaughn Miller.

?It was a lot more than than just sitting in a classroom,? added

Daniel Schmidt. ?You got to explore a little more.?

And what they found made an impression.

?When you actually visualize it, it makes it more real,? said Eunice

Vogt. ?You understand it easier than reading it out of a book and

trying to figure out what it means. You also have more respect for

nature after you?ve seen it.?

Aside from learning hands-on about ecology, students said they had a

lot of fun being together. To some extent, the trip was as much about

sociology as biology, Dailey said.

?Part of the social (aspect) was deciding who was going to be in their

tent, and what they were going to eat the following night,? he said.

Mix in a host of lighthearted moments and a few pranks, and this

excursion became a memorable experience students were still talking

about long after they returned home.

?It was a blast,? said Rendi Cress.

This was the first time in 12 years Dailey had organized such an

experience at Goessel High, and this group was by far the larges

More from article archives
Habitat for the holiday hungry?
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN Carol McFadden of 209 S. Date, Hillsboro, recently completed six...
Read More