Sunday, October 6, 2013

TITLE "WATER AND WILDLIFE FOR SIXTH GRADERS" A Waterworks Column by Gordon Prickett for the 10/2/2013 Aitkin Independent Age WATER AND WILDLIFE FOR SIXTH GRADERS Aitkin County sixth graders spent a day in early September at the Long Lake Conservation Center just east of Palisade. This year I followed the money that ACLARA, the Aitkin County Lakes And Rivers Association, donated to County Environmental Services to put on this “Environmental Education Day.” I attended Tuesday, September 10th, and joined the Hill City Sixth Grade through four hours of instruction and ate pizza with them at lunch time. The first hour was about “The Earth’s Water,” presented by the Minnesota Science Museum from St. Paul. For more than four billion years the same amount of water has cycled around the earth in clouds, rain, ground water, and surface water. Just 3% is fresh water and 97% is salt water. The ice caps hold 2% of this fresh water. The lesson is clear that we don’t want to waste any of the 1% that is left. Next we learned about the wild creatures in the state and met a few of them from the Minnesota Zoo. We have 78 kinds of mammals, and 22 amphibians. In Minnesota there are 31 kinds of reptiles, including 17 snakes. And there are 428 kinds of birds, with about 45 to 50 remaining year round. The traveling zoo visitors included a red-tailed hawk, an opossum, and a snake. After lunch naturalists from Long Lake presented a program about frogs and toads. Next we went down to the shore of Long Lake to scoop up sediment and water samples. We collected this material back in the laboratory and identified numerous lake bottom organisms with the aid of charts and microscopes. A BEAUTIFUL TIME OF YEAR Days and nights are now the about same length. Warm afternoons and crisp sleeping nights. Grass cutting is just about over for the season, and the water craft are calling. Before taking in our boats and docks, it is a fine time to enjoy the clear water and the colors that are beginning to turn around the shore. A few years ago we traveled across the Arrowhead, down the North Shore, over into Northern Wisconsin to observe the Fall colors of early October. But when we returned to Aitkin County, the most spectacular show was right here!

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