Local youth get dirty in quest for reptiles and amphibians

Jan Stavroplus shows children how to find life in the wetland during last Tuesday’s reptiles and amphibians program at the Driftless Area Wetland Center.

MARQUETTE — Nearly 30 elementary students got their hands dirty in the quest for reptiles and amphibians last Wednesday at the Driftless Area Wetland Center in Marquette.

The program was put together by the Iowa State Extension for kindergarten through third-graders and gave students the opportunity to interact with salamanders, turtles, snakes, frogs and other creatures of the wetland. After a morning session that included time learning about what they would see outside and creating crafts, the students had the chance to go outside to the wetland and see what they could find.

“The wetland is the ideal place to be looking for those types of critters,” Jan Savroplus, an education assistant at the Wetland Center, said.

Students were shown how to sift through the water with nets and then given the chance to fan out around the small wetland, which is located adjacent to the railroad yard just west of downtown.

“I encouraged them to expand their exploration beyond the deck, so some of them did take to the trails and it was kind of neat to see what they find,” Stavroplus said. 

Students found the water teaming with tadpoles as well as small insects. They also spotted frogs, a toad and even a snake during their session outside, led by their enthusiastic leader.

“I get excited when they get excited – we just feed off each other,” Stavroplus said. “We never find the same things – one child will never find the same thing that the other one does.”

Read more in the Wednesday, June 20, 2018 edition of The Outlook.