Ecology Program Set at Conservation Area
Pamela Selbert St. Charles Post, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
The August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area is offering a four-week "Eco" Investigators program to teach youngsters ages 8 to 12 about the natural communities of Missouri - its forests, prairies, ponds and streams.
The programs started Friday with a presentation on forest ecology. Programs continue with prairie ecology on July 7, pond ecology on July 14, and stream ecology on July 28, said Nancy Snider, the naturalist who is host of the programs. All sessions run from 1-3 p.m. at the Busch lodge and outdoors.
Up to 25 may attend each session. Snider asks that students coming for prairie ecology bring an old T-shirt for making some prairie prints. Those signed up for the session on stream ecology may wade in a creek.
Children should sign up two weeks before each particular session. They receive a certificate for each session they attend and a special certificate and magnifying glass if they complete the whole program. Parents are welcome, Snider said.
At the forest ecology session, 14 youngsters gathered around while Snider explained that Busch Conservation Area is "a place where people learn to conserve - or use wisely - and respect the forest, fish, and wildlife living here."
There's no picking of flowers or berries "unless it's not harmful and special permission has been given," and the animals are only to be looked at, not captured, she said. There's fishing, but it's "catch and release," she said.
Snider asked each of them to stand and introduced themselves, and tell the group why they'd come to be "Eco" Investigators.
"I came to learn," said Sam Griggs, 9, of Cottleville.
"I came to learn about nature," said Thomas Lewis, 9, of O'Fallon.
"I came to learn about the forest," said Jason Jabbari, 10, of Maryland Heights.
Snider explained that originally two-thirds of Missouri was covered by forests, and even though few old-growth trees remain today, one-third of Missouri's forests are still standing.
"There are many types of forests, and what type they are depends of a variety of things," she said. "Climate - in Missouri, for instance, where we have four seasons, forests are made up of deciduous trees that lose their leaves." Soil, topography, and human disturbance also play roles in determining forest type, she added.
All forests are made up of levels, or layers, and in each occur different plants and animals, she said. …