Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Visit the new Horicon International Education Center. © William Volkert

Visit the new Horicon International Education Center.
© William Volkert

August 2009

Wisconsin Traveler

Educate yourself

Brandon Russell

As a new school year approaches, take some fun-filled day trips to some of Wisconsin’s educational centers. These sites offer programs that are not only great experiences for kids, but are equally entertaining for curious adults who like to learn throughout their lifetime about Wisconsin’s natural beauty.

Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area – 102 East Crex Avenue, Grantsburg. Come take part in the Full Moon Wolf Howl from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5. For just $10/person, visitors will learn about wolf biology, track wolf footprints and make "howling” attempts to follow a pack. Come back a month later to bear witness as thousands of sandhill cranes migrate and roost through the area. Talks from the property naturalist are scheduled on Saturday, Oct. 3, 10 and 17 from 5 p.m. to dark. Cost is $5/person and advanced signup is highly recommended. Contact Jim Hoefler, Crex naturalist, at (715) 463-2896.

MacKenzie Environmental Education Center – W7303 County Road CS & Q, Poynette. Come take a picture with Smokey Bear while enjoying a free musical sing-along at the Hootenanny Community Event on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Also enjoy spooky nights of fun on the Haunted Hay Rides, Saturday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 31, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Cost: $5/adult and $3 for children ages 3-8. Contact: Ruth Ann Lee (608) 635-8105.

Havenwoods State Forest – 6141 N. Hopkins Street, Milwaukee. See and learn about owls and their interesting adaptations on Saturday, Aug. 22 from 10 a.m. to noon. No cost. Also swoop in for a free special event on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 11 a.m. to noon held by the Bat Conservation of Wisconsin to see and learn about these fuzzy flying creatures. Contact: Sue Johansen (414) 527-0232.

Mead Wildlife Area Educational and Visitors Center – S2148 County Hwy S, Milladore. The nearly 33,000-acre wildlife area offers visitors a wide variety of activities including: 70 miles of hiking trails, hunting, biking, boating, dog training and bird watching. The wildlife area is home to more than 248 species of birds, and an additional 19 species only seen on rare occasions. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Mead Wildlife Area and an event is planned for Saturday, Aug. 29 to honor this mile milestone. Further details are available at (715) 457-6771.

Sandhill Wildlife Area – 1715 Hwy X, P.O. Box 156, Babcock. Keep yourself full, safe and alive after a talk with plant expert Jason Faunce about plants used for food, medicine and survival on Saturday, Sept. 12. BYO lunch. Cost: $20/person. Maximum of 15 participants. Register by Sept. 4. Then come back a few weeks later to take in the magnificent migration of more than 5,000 sandhill cranes while camping by the Gallagher Marsh. This event offers overnight camping starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3 and ending at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4. Cost: $35/person includes two meals and a guide. BYO camping gear. Maximum of 20 participants. Register by Sept. 23. Contact: Dick Thiel (715) 884-2437.

Horicon International Education Center – N7725 Hwy 28, Horicon. This newly built $5 million facility offers a wide variety of activities. Visit the 33,000-acre marsh to see and hear up to 300 different bird species featuring geese, swans, cranes, bald eagles, pelicans, ducks, songbirds and mammals. Watch from shore, take a pontoon tour or canoe and kayak through the state portion of the marsh in hopes of catching a glimpse of the rare black-necked stilt, normally found out west, but observed the past seven years at Horicon. Each fall, some 200,000 Canada geese stop over at Horicon Marsh on their migration from nesting grounds in sub-arctic Canada to points south. The populations peak by mid- to late-October, making this a traditional fall spectacle on the marsh. Public naturalist talks are given on weekends, from mid-September through the end of October, focusing on a variety of topics related to the geology, history, wildlife and management of Horicon Marsh. Program schedules are posted at Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area or contact Bill Volkert, DNR wildlife educator/naturalist or call (920) 387-7877.

Editorial intern Brandon Russell is pursuing a journalism certificate from Madison Area Technical College.