Adopt an Acre - A Study of Ozark Habitats (FBCEC)

Summary:

Groups of participants will be assigned an area of the FBCEC property, which represents a different habitat. The teams will go with their leaders to the areas to make observations and write detailed journal descriptions. The teams will then present their findings.

Grade Level:

4 - 12

Recommended Setting:

Outdoor classroom at FBCEC and indoor classroom

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Fred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484

Duration:

3 - 5 hours

Suggested Number of Participants:

Up to 24

Special Conditions:

Sufficient adult supervision.  Weather permitting.

Objectives:

  • Analyze an acre of habitat on the education center property and record observations in a journal.
  • Create a detailed presentation about the assigned habitat.
  • Present the group’s findings.
  • Compare and contrast the main habitat examples found at FBCEC

Key Terms*:

Habitat

Topography

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

Computers with PowerPoint software (optional)

Digital cameras (optional)

Field guides

GPS units, compasses (optional)

Journals or other writing, drawing and presentation materials

Magnifying lenses

Map of the FBCEC property

Measuring tapes or trundle wheels for each group

Pencils, markers, scissors, glue

Poster board, foam board or other presentation media

Sealable (Zip Loc) plastic bags

Soil sampling equipment

Stakes or flags for marking off designated area

Thermometers

Background:

Carefully making observations, accurately recording findings and communicating them are vital skills for any scientist. These are as important to the “outdoor” scientist as they are to one who works in a lab.

Procedure:

  1. The class should be divided into six groups, each with at least one adult leader. Supply each group with a map and assign one of the following habitats to each group:
    • Stream bank
    • Moist Ozark limestone bluff
    • Pasture
    • River birch sycamore forest/water willow wetland
    • White oak – post oak/bluestem woodland
    • White oak – red oak – sugar maple – yellow bud hickory – spicebush forest
  2. Upon reaching the assigned area, participants will use flags or stakes to mark off one acre. (This will be square, 210 feet on each side.)
  3. The participants are to thoroughly analyze the area in the time allotted. Instruct them to observe topography, soil, plant life, animal life (or evidence of it), geology and other physical factors. They should take thorough notes for producing a presentation.
  4. After the allotted time, the groups should meet at the classroom to prepare their presentations. Designate a specific amount of time for the task.
  5. When that time has passed, groups will make their presentations.
  6. The group should evaluate the similarities and differences between these habitat types. Which types are most similar? Most different? Is there a “typical” Ozark habitat? Can factors within a given habitat affect neighboring ones?

Modifications:

  • Digital photography can be incorporated to document observations and present a PowerPoint slideshow. Digital photo instruction will depend on the group’s experience.
  • A video documentary is another possibility.
  • The activity could also be expanded to include nature mapping.

Review:

Compare and contrast the habitats investigated at FBCEC.

Resources:

A variety of field guides should be made available to the participants.

Participant Information Sheets:

Crooked Creek Map

Glossary:

Habitat – an arrangement of food, water, shelter or cover, and space suitable to animals’ needs   

Topography – graphic details on maps or charts of a region’s natural and man-made features that shows relative positions and elevations