Monthly Archives: January 2013

WICHITA WILD Job Opening for Division Supervisor – Naturalist

         Great Job Opening: Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita

Job Title: Division Supervisor – Naturalist
Closing Date/Time: Mon. 02/25/13 5:00 PM CST
Salary: $45,191.00 – $80,349.00 Annually
Job Type: Full-time
Location: Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 E. 29th Street North, Wichita, Kansas

This is supervisory and professional work directing the WICHITAWILD program. This program involves preserving natural areas, providing nature education programs and activities, and maintaining the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit. Work is directed and reviewed through the establishment of goals and subsequent evaluation of progress toward goal attainment.

Required Experience and Training:
Graduation from a four-year college with a degree in biology, botany or a related natural science, plus one year of experience as a naturalist or environmental educator, plus three years supervisory experience. Two or more years experience as a naturalist or environmental educator is preferred. An equivalent combination of education, experience and training may be considered. Offers of employment are contingent upon passing a pre-employment physical, which includes drug screening, and upon satisfactory evaluation of the results of a criminal record check.
Examples of Work Performed:
Develops, implements, and supervises wildlife information/education materials.
Coordinates the schedules and activities of specialized nature workers.
Coordinates planning, development and maintenance of habitat areas, nature trails, and new nature facilities.
Promotes, develops, and presents special programs and other activities at the various habitat areas and nature trails.
Oversees design and development of interpretive displays as needed.
Provides information on natural areas, wildlife, and nature.
Coordinates projects and programs with appropriate agencies and organizations.
Monitors natural history features in the local area.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Program to Host Spring Workshop

Registration opens for women’s outdoor skills workshop at Rock Springs 4-H Center

Becoming An Outdoors-Woman (BOW), a non-profit, non-membership program offered through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), will host a spring workshop at Rock Springs 4-H Center nearJunction City, May 17-19. Aimed at teaching women outdoor skills, the workshop provides nearly 25 different classes ranging from shotgun basics and archery to photography and wood carving.

“It’s a great way for somebody to try new activities that maybe they’ve thought about, and never really had the courage to try,” said Kansas BOW coordinator Jami McCabe. “It’s a ton of fun.”

BOW has recruited a core of volunteer instructors, including KDWPT employees, law enforcement officials, and even past participants, all of whom are considered to be experts in their field. Since most participants are beginners, McCabe added that instructors strive to create a safe and supportive atmosphere for everyone in attendance.

Cost for the three-day workshop is $250, which includes lodging, meals and class supplies. Three $100 scholarships are available to first-time participants based on financial need.

Early registration will be open to first-time participants through March 1. If spots still remain, past participants may register beginning March 2. Applicants are encouraged to apply early as the spring workshop is limited to 48 participants. To register, visit, click “Services/Education/Becoming an Outdoors Woman,” and download a registration form.

For questions, call or email McCabe at (785) 845-5052 or [email protected]. To learn more, and view pictures of past workshops, visit the BOW Facebook page found under “Becoming an Outdoors Woman KANSAS.”

Recess ‘Crucial’ for Kids, Pediatricians’ Group Says


ABC News Medical Unit

Kids aren’t getting enough recess at school, the country’s top pediatricians’ group said in a new policy statement released Monday.

The statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest salvo in the long-running debate over how much of a young child’s time at school should be devoted to academics — and how much should go to free, unstructured playtime.

The authors of the policy statement write that the AAP “believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”

“The AAP has, in recent years, tried to focus the attention of parents, school officials and policymakers on the fact that kids are losing their free play,” said the AAP’s Dr. Robert Murray, one of the lead authors of the statement. “We are overstructuring their day. … They lose that creative free play, which we think is so important.”

The statement, which cites two decades worth of scientific evidence, points to the various benefits of recess. While physical activity is among these, so too are some less obvious boons such as cognitive benefits, better attention during class, and enhanced social and emotional development.

Pediatricians not directly involved with the drafting of the statement applauded the AAP’s move to save recess.

“It fascinates me … that this continues to be a debate,” said Dr. Barrett Fromme, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago. “The business world repeatedly lauds the corporate culture of companies like Google who offer opportunities for play and community collaboration, and suggests that such culture is the reason for the success and happiness of its employees. Yet, we do not encourage the same culture in our children who are at a far more critical developmental period.”

“This policy statement is not only important because of the physical, but also the cognitive ability of our children,” said Dr. Shari Barkin, director of the Division of General Pediatrics and of pediatric obesity research at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “This policy has created a thoughtful, comprehensive look at what is to be gained by coming back to an emphasis on physical activity and recess.”

Research Supports Benefits of Unstructured Playtime for Kids

A considerable body of research appears to support the AAP’s stand on the issue. Among this research is a study of 11,000 third-graders that appeared in the journal Pediatrics in 2009. This study found that kids who had little or no recess tended to behave worse in class and learn less than children who had at least 15 minutes of recess per day.

A 2009 Gallup poll of nearly 2,000 principals and other high-level administrators in the elementary school setting appeared to back up this finding; it found that more than eight in 10 principals believed that recess helped boost academic achievement.

“The science indicates that these kinds of breaks in the day for recess are necessary for cognitive processing,”Murray said.

Yet, various studies in recent years have revealed the erosion of this school staple. In most cases, research finds that elementary school children are getting some — but not much — unstructured recess time.

For example, according to 2005 numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics, only 7 to 13 percent of public elementary schools had no scheduled recess for children. From a relative standpoint, that’s the good news. But this same report also found that “the percentage of public elementary schools that had more than 30 minutes per day of recess ranged from 19 to 27 percent across elementary grades.”

Another study in 2005, published in the journal Childhood Education, found that up to 40 percent of the country’s school districts have either cut back recess or eliminated it in favor of additional academic activities.

Where’s the Kansas Wildlife

       Where’s the Kansas Wildlife?

              By Ted Beringer

The location of wildlife in the geographical landscape has become critical information for people with a wide variety of wildlife interests including biodiversity, ecological relationships, wildlife migration, evolutionary biology, conservation and establishing wildlife refuge boundaries. Here are examples of two database approaches that provide substantiated information on wildlife distribution over time: eBird Occurrence Maps and the Map of Life.

            The eBird occurrence maps provide data on over 300 bird species in the United States. Utilizing reports of stationary and travelling bird counts that are correlated with climate, habitat and human population, eBird creates a spatio-temporal map for each species predicting its geographical location during the course of the year. These maps are spun into impressive videos that supply practical information to everyone from casual bird watchers to researchers in ornithology. For example, since native grasslands are declining throughout the prairie states, migration maps can indicate where to create or improve grasslands to support migrating birds like the Dickcissel. Visit eBird and check out an example of the video map for the Dickcissel detailing its migratory path into Kansas (

            Another more ambitious database, Map of Life (,

is attempting to chart the detailed distribution of all species around the globe. This project maps the location of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fish.  One important application could provide verifiable distribution of threatened or endangered animals to improve locations of construction projects where the least amount of ecological damage would result. The Map of Life website requires a little patience. When you request information on the Lesser Prairie-chicken, for example, you must use the species name, Tympanuchus pallidicinctus. In addition to retrieving the locations of the Lesser prairie-chicken in Kansas using specific latitude and longitude, you can also find all the other bird species within a 50 km radius of that point. The site has a video tutorial to get you started. With a little patience, you can unleash a wealth of valuable and fascinating information.

Children’s Health and the Environment in America

EPA Releases New Report on Children’s Health and the Environment in America (Released Jan 25, 2013)

 – EPA today released “America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition,” a comprehensive compilation of information from a variety of sources on children’s health and the environment. The report shows trends for contaminants in air, water, food, and soil that may affect children; concentrations of contaminants in the bodies of children and women of child-bearing age; and childhood illnesses and health conditions. The report incorporates revisions to address peer review and public comments on draft materials released in 2011.

“This latest report provides important information for protecting America’s most vulnerable – our children. It shows good progress on some issues, such as reducing children’s blood lead levels and exposure to tobacco smoke in the home, and points to the need for continued focus on other issues”, said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Although we are encouraged by these findings, there is still much work to be done. By monitoring trends, identifying successes, and shedding light on areas that need further evaluation, we can continue to improve the health of our children and all Americans.”

Among the contaminants clearly linked to health conditions in children, key findings include:

  • The median concentration of lead in the blood of children between the ages of 1 and 5 years was 92 percent lower in 2009-2010 compared to 1976-1980 levels. Although the majority of the decline occurred in the 1980s, consistent decreases have continued since 1999.
  • The median level of cotinine (a marker of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke) measured in blood of nonsmoking children ages 3 to 17 years was 88 percent lower in 2009-2010 than it was in 1988–1991. In 2010, 6 percent of children ages 0 to 6 years lived in homes where someone smoked regularly, compared with 27 percent in 1994.
  • The percentage of children living in counties where pollutant concentrations were above the levels of one or more national air quality standards declined from 75 percent to 59 percent from 1999 to 2009.

The level of knowledge regarding the relationship between environmental exposures and health outcomes varies widely among the topics presented in this report, and the inclusion of an indicator in the report does not necessarily imply a known relationship between environmental exposure and children’s health effects. The report provides data for selected children’s health conditions that warrant further research because the causes, including possible contributing environmental factors, are complex and not well understood at this point.

In the case of asthma, researchers do not fully understand why children develop the condition. However, substantial evidence shows exposure to certain air pollutants, including particulate matter and ozone, can trigger symptoms in children who already have asthma. Although the report found the percentage of children reported to currently have asthma increased from 8.7 percent in 2001 to 9.4 percent in 2010 and that minority populations are particularly affected by asthma, the severity of children’s asthma and respiratory symptoms has declined. The rate of emergency room visits for asthma decreased from 114 visits per 10,000 children in 1996 to 103 visits per 10,000 children in 2008. Between 1996 and 2008, hospitalizations for asthma and for all other respiratory causes decreased from 90 hospitalizations per 10,000 children to 56 hospitalizations per 10,000 children.

The report also looks at trends in other health conditions, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and preterm births, for which rates have increased. There is no conclusive information on the role of environmental contaminants in ADHD or preterm births, and additional research is ongoing.

The national indicators presented in this comprehensive report are important for informing future research related to children’s health. Children may be more vulnerable to environmental exposures than adults because children’s bodies are still developing. Children eat more, drink more, and breathe more in proportion to their body size; and their behavior can expose them more to chemicals and organisms.

This report includes 37 indicators of children’s environmental health to address 23 important topics. The expanded content reflects the latest research on children’s health issues and the availability of data for more topics. Each indicator and its supporting text were peer reviewed by independent external experts and made available for review and comment by the public.

More on “America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition”:


Special Hunts Program Provides Unique Hunting Opportunities

Special hunts program gives hunters access to land not normally open to the public

Since its inception nearly 20 years ago, hunters have been able to apply for exclusive entry into areas with limited access through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Special Hunts Program. This special access means a higher quality hunt and potentially greater harvest rates, but hunters should still make every preparation necessary to ensure a successful hunt, just as they would anywhere else.

“The only guarantee with Special Hunts is you’ll have a place to hunt,” said Mike Nyhoff, KDWPT Public Lands regional supervisor. “These are wild animals with real Kansas weather and topography affecting the critters and hunters alike. We don’t guarantee success harvesting game, that’s still up to the hunter.”

When the Special Hunts Program first began in the early 1990s, hunters were permitted access to lands not normally open to public hunting such as refuges and state parks. Past special hunts have taken place on wildlife areas, state parks, Corps of Engineers properties, national wildlife refuges and city and county parks. In 2009, the amount of land available for special hunts increased as private landowners became eligible to participate in the program. To date, hunters have access to exclusive hunting areas in 13 counties statewide.

Although similar to the Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) program in that private landowners are compensated for the use of their land, the Special Hunts Program allows landowners to exercise more control over the use of their land. Rules such as which dates hunting can occur, how many people can hunt, as well as what species can be hunted are all left to the landowners’ discretion. In addition, land areas designated for special hunts provide limited access to the public, whereas WIHAs provide open access to hunters.

Because access is limited, hunters must apply online for the hunts they desire. Interested applicants can expect to see more information on the 2013 fall and winter special hunts in early July. In 2012, the Special Hunts Program made 646 hunts available for the fall/winter hunting season. Hunters had a choice of upland birds and doves, ducks and geese, deer, turkey and furbearers.

In addition to what type of species applicants would like to hunt, hunters must also specify if they are requesting an open hunt, a youth hunt, or a mentor hunt.

• Open hunts are available to all hunters.

• Youth hunts require parties to include at least one youth 18 or younger, accompanied by an adult 21 or older. The adult cannot hunt.

• Mentor hunts are open to both youth and novice hunters supervised by a mentor 21 or older. Both beginning hunter and mentor can hunt. A youth is a person 18 or younger, whereas a novice is a youth 18 or younger, or any person who has never possessed a hunting license prior to the special hunt.

Depending upon the location and species being hunted, special hunts can range from a half-day up to the entire length of the season. Upon successfully completing the application, hunters will then be entered into a random computer drawing conducted within one week of the application deadline. If chosen, the successful applicant will then be emailed their hunt permit, as well as maps and other information.

For the spring turkey season, hunters will be able to apply for special hunts from Feb. 1-March 11. Last year, the Special Hunts Program made approximately 170 hunts available at 27 different locations. A similar number of hunts are expected for the 2013 season, which is youth/disabled/archery, April 1-9, followed by the regular firearm season, April 10-May 31.

“If we can provide one quality experience a year for a hunter, beginner or expert,” said Bruce Taggart, retired KDWPT employee and fundamental party in initiating the Special Hunts Program, “chances are they will continue in the sport for years to come.”

For more information on the Special Hunts Program, visit and click “Hunting/Special Hunts Information.”

2013 Fishing Regulations Summary Available Now

Fishing regulations summary pamphlet includes more than laws

Most avid anglers have several items – a special lure or a lucky hat – they won’t be caught fishing without. All should add the 2013 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary to their “don’t-go-without” list. The 49-page, color pamphlet is available now wherever licenses are sold and can be downloaded

Of course, the summary includes important fishing regulations such as special seasons, creel and length limits, license fees and legal fishing methods. And there’s also a special section highlighting new regulations for 2013. This publication is a must-have for anglers because creel and length limits vary from lake to lake. The pamphlet includes a special 16-page section that lists all public waters, along with their location and any special regulations in effect. You can also see which community lakes don’t charge extra fees for fishing, and even which lakes provide the best family fishing experience. Community lakes designated as Family Friendly Facilities (FFF) will include flush toilet facilities, security patrols, security lighting, easy access to the water and do not allow alcohol.

Anglers will also find important information on aquatic nuisance species (ANS), as well as regulations governing the use of live baitfish. Five pages are devoted to fish identification, featuring color illustrations by Joe Tomelleri. Current state record fish are listed, and there is also a Master Angler Application for anglers who catch fish that qualify for the Master Angler Program.

The 2013 Fishing Regulations Summary pamphlet is truly a necessary item for anglers, and copies are available at more than 200 outlets statewide. Grab two copies, one for your tackle box and one for the boat, so you’ll never be without it.

7 Myths About Old Man Winter

Is every snowflake really unique? Do the days really get shorter? Can you really “catch cold” outside?
We’d like to clear up a variety of misconceptions about the winter months. Read, learn, and amaze others with your new cold-weather knowledge!
Myth #1: You can “catch cold” from going outside in winter.
Nope. Viruses and bacteria make you sick, not being cold or wet. Colds, flus, and cases of pneumonia are most often spread indoors where people are in close proximity, which makes outside the most germ-free place to be in the winter! It’s still important to wear a hat and scarf on bitter days to protect from cold-related illnesses such as hypothermia and frostbite. Find tips for staying toasty outside this winter. 
Myth #2: Days get shorter in winter.
Sure, there are fewer hours of daylight in winter than in the summer months. But the days actually start to grow longer after the first official day of winter, which occurs on Dec. 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere. (In fact, by the end of February the amount of daylight is about the same as you find during the autumn days of late October.)
Also there’s a seldom-remembered benefit of shorter days: Kids don’t need to stay up late to see the sunset! Winter sunsets can be beautiful. Here’s the plan: Find sunset times in your area, check out these tips forphotographing sunrises and sunsets, grab your camera, and head out with the kids! (When planning your viewing spot, remember that the sun will appear farther south in the sky than at other times of the year.)  
Myth #3: Plants stop growing in winter.
Many plants flower or bear berries during the winter months, including ornamental plants you may find in your garden such as holly, winter honeysuckle, and bayberry. Winter weeds (e.g. annual bluegrass, henbit, common chickweed, and speedwell) will pop up in turned-over soil and patches of lawn. And cold-resistant vegetables also grow, such as carrots, parsnips, cabbage, and a variety of greens. Don’t forget: There are millions of Americans who experience mild winters – and they get to see plants grow all year long!
Myth #4: Winter is the time for extra sleep, comfort foods, and inside play.
Every once in a while, hibernating on the couch with a take-out pizza isn’t a bad thing. But a sedentary lifestyle and high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet carry the same health risks in the winter as at other times of the year.Get outside, and your family will stay fit, keep energy levels high, and combat Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression. Fuel your family with a balanced diet so that you feel up to a snowball fight or walk around the block.
Myth #5: Most birds fly south.
Just look outside after a snowmelt to see that this isn’t true! Depending where you live, you might seechickadeescardinals, jays, magpies, woodpeckers, and titmice among the many varieties of birds that will be outdining on dormant insects and seeds, important food sources in the winter months. Winter birds fluff up their down and feathers for added insulation from wind and cold. To bring your feathered neighbors to your backyard, create a bird-friendly habitat
Myth #6: Bears sleep all winter.
Not really. Black bears, for example, awake at times, give birth to their young during the winter, and can arouse easily if disturbed. Bear hibernation is sometimes known as “partial hibernation” because it differs from the deep winter sleep of other animals such as groundhogs and chipmunks, which experience significant drops in body temperature and heart rate.  A bear’s heart does slow down, and the bear can go without eating, drinking, or eliminating wastes for the entire season. But body temperature drops only slightly. Other “light sleepers” in winter include raccoons and skunks, which have periods of dormancy but venture out on mild days to find food.
Myth #7: Every snowflake is unique.
Okay, so this one is mostly true, with an interesting exception. When talking about lacy, intricate snowflakes (the kind we try to recreate with white paper and scissors), scientists say there are far too many ways these tiny complex crystals can develop to allow for two identical flakes. But sometimes snowflakes fall before developing their unique characteristics and arrive as very simple shapes, like prisms or plates. It may still be tough to find two alike, but fun to try, especially with the help of a microscope. Learn more about snow crystals from the California Institute of Technology.

Little Bluestem Grass: Kansas State Grass

                                 By: Nancy Goulden and Valerie Wright

                          Co-chairs of KNPS Little Bluestem Committee

 On Kansas Day, January 29th, many Kansas school children will be learning about the state symbols as part of their celebration of the state’s birthday. Citizens all over the state recognize the sunflower as the state flower and may also know the state tree, the cottonwood, and maybe even the state reptile, the ornate box turtle. But, how many know the state grass or even that Kansas has a state grass? Little Bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium), the most recently chosen state icon, was named by the Kansas State Legislature July 1, 2010.

At that time, the four states surrounding Kansas all had state grasses, but not Kansas. Finally our quintessential prairie state made the decision to recognize the treasure of our grasslands by naming a state grass. With the support of the Kansas Native Plant Society, school children throughout the state chose Little Bluestem. They sent letters and pictures to the legislators asking them to name a state grass and that the grass be Little Bluestem. Because Little Bluestem is found in every county in Kansas and is a “kid-sized” grass, it was a very appropriate selection.

Kansas Day would be a good opportunity for both adults and children to visit Little Bluestem in a nearby prairie or pasture since winter is one of the most beautiful and showy times for the grass. Here are some clues for identifying our state grass. In comparison to its “cousin” Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem is a medium-sized grass, usually 2 to 4 feet tall. It is a “clump grass,” with a cluster of multiple stems growing close together. This time of year the blades along the stem and the stems give the plant a copper color. The fuzzy white seed heads have a unique, slightly “curly” shape.

Because of the pleasing image of Little Bluestem in all seasons, and its ability to withstand drought, it is increasingly being used for landscape plantings for homes, parks, and schools. In its natural setting, the spring grass provides grazing for bison, antelope, and cattle. In the winter, cattle feed on hay from Little Blue. Not only do a variety of adult insects depend on Little Bluestem as a food source, the grass is also host to several caterpillars of beautiful butterflies and skippers. Many grassland sparrows eat the seeds of Little Bluestem to help them through the winter and also shelter under the protective clumps of the grass.

All of these attributes were instrumental in the Kansas Native Plant Society’s decision to choose Little Bluestem as their “Wildflower of the Year” for 2013. They hope Kansans will learn to know and appreciate their State Grass this year.

For more information about Little Bluestem and teaching/learning materials about the Kansas State Grass, go to: and click on “State Grass: Little Bluestem.”