Students learn 'bear' essentials

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Bears may be scary but there's more to it than that, first-grade students at Sunset Elementary learned Friday.

As part of a yearly field trip with an official from the Department of Wildlife, the young students came closer to understanding how the world and the animals around them interact during a day-trip to Craig's Loudy-Simpson Park.

"We've found with this education program over the years that this has helped bring a dramatic shift toward preserving wildlife," said Brad Petch, a habitat biologist with the DOW.

"This education is a major part of our efforts to help keep our wildlife numbers intact," he said.

Earlier that day, Petch explained through games and hands-on art projects the meaning of animal habitats and why they are important to preserve. Students made paper butterflies to blend in with trees and leaves.

After a lunch break, students delved into the roles of a quite a larger animal, the bear, and what conditions it needed to survive in its habitat around Craig.

Through an interactive game, students posing as bears, chose dens and scrambled to pick up small colored pieces of paper that represented food.

According to Petch, bears need a lot of food to survive. With a hand-drawn chart, Petch offered examples of the bulk of food bears eat, such as 20 pounds of berries and eight pounds of meat each week. A collective "eeww....," surfaced after Petch informed students that bears supplement their diets with about12 pounds of insects a week.

As students progressively learn more about the animals in their environment, the goal of the extended program is that students learn their actions affect animals, said first-grade teacher Michele Cole.

"Most importantly they're learning that they're responsible for taking care of animals in nature," she said.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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