The drizzling rain Friday morning provided the perfect setting for 70 Hillcrest School sixth-graders who were learning about wetlands.
"Come on, baby, move," said Mercy Mwangi as she looked at a tadpole inside a jug that had just been pulled from the water.
She and her classmates were on a two-hour field trip that was part of the Wakarusa Wetland Learners project. It was sponsored by the Jayhawk Audubon Society and the Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance/StreamLink.
The field trip consisted of five stations covering different topics: macro-invertebrates, Wakarusa Wetlands history, botany, movement and water chemistry.
"Our goal is to just keep increasing people's awareness of all ages that natural environments are crucial to our lives," said Sandy Sanders, project coordinator and a member of the Jayhawk Audubon Society Education Committee. "We feel like the more people who understand that and the earlier in life that they understand it, the more likely they are to preserve and conserve and really care for and appreciate those environments."
The field trip provided insight for the students.
"There are ... either 417 or 471 plants and only a handful of them haven't been used by Native Americans in some way," said student Ethan Ward.
Classmate Grace Huang said she learned about the plants and history.
"I learned that the wetlands used to be really big but the people drained the water out," she said.
So far, eight schools and 428 Lawrence students have participated in the project. It is funded by a $4,000 grant from the Elizabeth Schultz Environmental Fund, which runs out in June. New funds are being sought to continue the project.
For more information about the project, call Sanders at 841-4807.