Area educators learn about prairie ecosystems

Thursday, November 1, 2018
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Courtesy photo

Teacher Cassidy DeJonge of Forsyth, Mont. holds Churt, a western hog-nosed snake.

Almost 30 educators from around Southeastern Montana spent last Thursday learning about prairie ecosystems.

They attended an allday educators workshop at Miles Community College hosted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Participants heard about how they and their students can become involved in a citizen science project to help FWP Region 7 Wildlife Biologist Brandi Skone to research the elusive swift fox, a species of concern in Montana.

Educators got up close and personal with a couple of snake species found in Montana. Heather Nenninger, a Sage Grouse Initiative range and wildlife conservationist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Forsyth, brought her milk snake, Agate, and her western hog-nosed snake, Churt, to help display characteristics of snakes of Montana. Nenninger also discussed prairie plants and ways to identify them. She assisted with sage grouse discussions later in the day.

Kurt Cunningham, education specialist with FWP’s Montana Wild educational facility in Helena, talked about teaching prairie grasslands ecosystems in the classroom, along with sharing hides and taxidermy from wildlife across Montana. He also led participants in mapping sage grouse movements by season and drawing conclusions from their behaviors.

The day wrapped up with Cunningham discussing Montana fish species and educators learning what educational resources FWP has available for teachers.