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Beaver Creek Wetland Tours

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The Kaw Nation Environmental Department guided students from four area schools on tours of the Beaver Creek Wetland between May 1 and 7. Students from Blackwell Middle School, Newkirk Middle School, Braman School and Shidler Middle School explored the wetland habitat as they learned about its role in mitigating effects of climate change.

“The wetland is a huge filter for pollutants,” Environmental Specialist Daniel Ceniti explained to Blackwell students.

The KNED taught students about the wetland’s part in water storage and filtration, sediment trapping, nutrient cycling and flood control.

Students played plant identification games in a pond area and amid tall grass.

“We found a black snake by the creek. It came out of a hole,” Cody Chrisler of Newkirk declared as he and a few friends climbed from the creek bed.

Ceniti taught students about water quality, showing them how to read water quality monitors and look for indicators like turbidity and acidity.

After he relayed a reading with high acidity in the pond, KNED Director Dr. Dejene Alemayehu noted that an oil spill had occurred up the hill in April, explaining that this spiked the acidity of the water. He said, “We advise oil drillers to drill away from bodies of water.”

Alemayehu and Ceniti introduced the children to the concept of soil divisions. Alemayehu dug up and offered students chunks of earth so that they could compare the moisture and texture of different soil levels.

Students also visited the Kanza Museum during the trip. Kanza Museum Director Crystal Douglas told them the history of Kaw Nation.

As Newkirk students played the drum, Douglas appeared and explained the relationship of the drumkeeper to the drum.

“When you bless a drum, spiritually, it’s like a brother or a sister. You feed it. You give it light. You take care of it and make sure it doesn’t split,” she said.

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