ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
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
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
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF