Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center Orientation (GMHDRNC)
This program is usually at the beginning of a group’s tour and covers the Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center (GMHDRNC) and its purpose. Participants usually sit around the mosaic map of the Arkansas Delta as they learn about the center.
K - adult
DRNC exhibit halls
Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff
Education Program Coordinator, 870-534-0011
45 minutes - 1 hour
Suggested Number of Participants:
Up to 75
- Learn why and how GMHDRNC operates and its features.
- Learn about other Arkansas Game and Fish educational facilities.
- Discuss delta and wetland biology.
*See glossary for definations
Exhibits housed at GMHDRNC
GMHDRNC is the first of four free nature centers built by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission with revenue from Amendment 75, a one-eighth of 1 percent statewide sales tax passed in 1996. The center was designed as if it were a waterfowl hunting lodge set among Pine Bluff Regional Park's delta bottomland, Lake Langhofer and Black Dog Bayou. Exhibits focus on the Delta and its rivers, vividly describing how meandering waterways have changed this land and why swamps are valuable ecosystems.
- Seat the class around the mosaic map of the Arkansas Delta. Introduce GMHDRNC, explaining its origin and its mission: to promote conservation of our natural resources through exposure, experience and education.
- Next, focus on the map. Tell about the Mississippi alluvial plain and what that implies about the geography and wildlife there. The Arkansas Delta (a wetland) is a land constantly changed by rivers. Alluvial soil, or alluvium, is the nutrient-rich soil picked up and relocated as a river flows along its course. Wetlands naturally store water underground, absorbing river overflows and lessening floods’ destruction. Because of this, native wild turkeys, black bears, waterfowl and deer thrive in these watery wild lands. Wetlands also offer a nursery for fish and shellfish, an area to purify and filter groundwater, and food and habitat for wildlife as well as recreation such as boating, duck hunting and fishing. Point out some of the birds above that live in the Delta plains as well as the live reptiles and amphibians in the aquariums around the perimeter. If time allows, probe more: What characteristics define reptiles? How many venomous snakes are there in Arkansas? What is the difference between venomous and poisonous?
- Tell about the facility and, if time allows, take them to these features.
- The hands-on laboratory houses more reptile and amphibian species as well as hides and bones to study.
- The “River Rat House Boat Theater,” a ten-minute movie, reviews life through the centuries in Arkansas. Experience how the first explorers and settlers adapted to life in the deepest swampy areas of the state.
- Then meander over to Changes to the River to see the Arkansas River path more than 150 years ago and how the flood of 1927 almost washed away Pine Bluff.
- “Delta Rivers Airways,” a three-minute movie, takes a crop-duster ride over the Arkansas Delta. Farms are mixed with forests and swamps in the lands where plants, animals and human culture have adapted to the dynamic river cycles.
- Nearby is the exhibit Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden. The large windows offer a relaxing wildlife-friendly garden full of color, texture and diversity. A snake, rabbit, frog or deer may appear along with many songbirds that are attracted by the native plants.
- Two exhibits, The Worthless Swamp and A Wetland is a Wet Land demonstrate the value of the wetlands and the wildlife on it. Just around the corner, weigh in at Big Fishes of the Delta and learn some of Arkansas' sport fishing records and how a person’s weight compares to the Delta’s largest fishes.
- Answer any questions.
- Why are wetlands important ecosystems?
- What is the purpose of nature centers and conservation education centers?
- Why are native plants valuable to an ecosystem?
Alluvium – sediment deposited by flowing water as in a riverbed, flood plain or delta
Delta – a low triangular area of alluvial deposits where a river divides before entering a larger body of water, such as the Mississippi River delta
Dynamic – characterized by continuous change, activity or progress
Oxbow lake – a crescent-shaped body of water formed when a wide meander of a river is cut off from the main channel
Waterfowl – any bird that frequents the water or lives near rivers, lakes or sea
Wetland – lowland area, such as a marsh or swamp, that is saturated with moisture, especially when regarded as a wildlife natural habitat