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Colorado State University Wildlife Camera Educational Outreach with Boltz Middle School.

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Fig. 3 Example of Food Web created by Boltz students


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Colorado State University Wildlife Camera Educational Outreach with Boltz Middle School

Alex Arvin; Genevieve Fuller; Kerry Gold; Emily Grabowsky; Meredith Lewis; Rebecca Much; Samuel Peterson; Toryn Schafer; Jordan Baumgartner and the Boltz Middle School 6th Grade Science Class; Kevin Crooks

Purpose

As part of an ongoing K-12 education and outreach effort, this study aimed to demonstrate ecological research and application to youth through the use of wildlife camera traps at Pineridge Natural Area with the goal of furthering interest in local habitats, wildlife, and ecosystem connections.

Research Questions

Fig.1 Sample of wildlife photos captured by camera traps at Pineridge Natural Area

Description

  • Boltz students created the following research questions:
  • Period 2: At which cameras are humans and bobcats found most often?
  • Period 3 and 4: Which species is seen most frequently at each camera?Period 5: Which species are most common for each habitat?

The undergraduate chapter of The Wildlife Society at Colorado State University (CSU), along with Dr. Kevin Crooks in the CSU Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, assisted four periods of Jordan Baumgartner’s 6th Grade Boltz Middle School science classes with wildlife camera surveys in Pineridge Natural Area (PNA), Fort Collins, CO to help teach a unit in ecology.

Fig.1 Map of Pineridge Natural Area with habitats and camera locations

Boltz students in the field at PNA (left) and viewing photos captured by cameras in class (right).

Methods

  • Field: Six wildlife camera traps surveyed a variety of habitats at PNA; cameras maintained August to December 2013 for data acquisition; photos sorted by camera and species to help answer Boltz students’ research questions.
  • Classroom:Presented overview of remote camera methodology; introduced students to wildlife species present at PNA; presented data to answer research questions; displayed best photos and videos captured by cameras.
  • Boltz Students: Developed foods webs; created research questions; attended field day at PNA to visit cameras and habitats; graphed findings from data provided by CSU undergraduates.

Fig. 3 Example of Food Web created by Boltz students

Discussion

The collaborative effort between CSU, Poudre School District, and Fort Collins Natural Areas provided an excellent opportunity to teach lessons in ecology using a local natural area. This project demonstrated the differences and diversity in local wildlife species and their habitats, allowing Boltz students to draw real-life connections to their ecology curriculum.

Fig.2 Example of line graph created by Boltz Students.