In June and July of 2001 Beth Spieles, Environmental
Information Officer, designed and led two interpretive programs
for Southwest Minnesota residents.
On Sunday, June 24, at the Garvin Park Open House,
Spieles sponsored a "water history chain" activity for youth.
Hundreds of people attended the open house, and as many as 60
children took time out to make a chain. Based on a Project WET
(Water Education for Teachers) activity, participating youth pretended
they were each a water droplet traveling through space and time
in southwestern Minnesota. As they stopped at various stations
(rivers, clouds, glaciers, ground water, etc.), they read about
the region's history and added a bead to their chain. Parents
either assisted or flipped through the Center's books to get their
own taste of the region's rich cultural and natural history.
On Saturday July 7, Spieles presented a wildlife
program at the Camden
State Park amphitheater. After getting more than a dozen of
the audience members involved in some Native American storytelling,
she discussed the three main habitats found in southwestern Minnesota:
upland prairie, wet prairie, and river corridor. Spieles continued
by sharing what is known about the wildlife that have populated
this region over the millennia and more specifically over the
past 200 years. She drew on examples from the Rural and Regional
Essays of Scott Anfinson and Janet Timmerman. With the aid of
animal skins and skulls from the SMSU
Natural History Museum and slides from various university
collections, Spieles painted the picture of a regional wildlife
community under constant change from external climatic forces
and internal wildlife and human pressures.