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Contact information
For information about Sandhill Wildlife Area, contact:
Sandhill Wildlife Area
1715 County Hwy X
Babcock, WI 54413

Sandhill high school independent studies

In the winter of 1995-96, the Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center piloted their High School Independent Studies (HSIS) program, providing area high school students with opportunities to work on a variety of wildlife research projects. Since then, an average of 35-40 students from near and far (some coming from Wausau, Eau Claire, LaCrosse and Madison areas) have participated in intensive winter field investigations on timber wolf-deer interactions, Blanding's turtle hibernation and summer season movements, black-capped chickadee survival rates and porcupine ecology studies. Because of budget cuts, over the past few years only the porcupine ecology study is offered (For information on the caliber of research, see below for the HSIS Annual Reports).

Student qualifications:

  • Must have approval of high school administration
  • Must be a junior or senior,
  • Provide own transportation to and from Sandhill Wildlife Area and
  • Must have a cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.0 ("B" average) on a 4-point scale

In September each year, the Outdoor Skills Center sends out queries and application forms to area high school biology or environmental instructors, asking for them to solicit qualified, interested students. Student applications are due by early October and selected individuals are invited for personal interviews normally conducted in late October.

Selected students are invited to participate and the entire research crew assembles for a Training Day in late November. Field training is conducted in early December. The research work commences the first Tuesday following January 1st and runs through mid March. Students come to Sandhill in lieu of attending school one day every other week throughout the winter (missing about 8 days of school), on their assigned days (either Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays) and work with their day-crew applying scientific methodology to unravel wildlife's secrets.

The objectives of the Porcupine Ecology project are to determine the:

  • numbers, ages and sex-ratios of porcupines on southern Sandhill
  • special organization of porcupines
  • winter survival of porcupines
  • impact of porcupines on forest productivity

At the end of their winter's work, the entire work force assembles once again for a day of wrenching mathematical work in early April - Data Day - to find answers to the objectives and summarize the year's work. If you qualify, or if you know of a qualified student who might be interested, contact Britt Searles for an application and information on whether your school district presently participates in this program.

Last revised: Friday September 28 2012