Gift Provides Permanent Support For Kansas Wetlands Education Center

GREAT BEND – The Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) recently received a generous gift from Duane Shook, a nature enthusiast and longtime friend of Fort Hays State University (FHSU). Shook provided a life income gift of $450,000 to create the Duane Shook Kansas Wetlands Education Center Endowed Fund. Proceeds generated by the endowment will support KWEC in perpetuity.

The education center is located about 8 miles northeast of Great Bend on Highway 156, on the southeast corner of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, and is operated by Fort Hays State University with staff from the University and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT). Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest inland marsh in the United States and one of the most important migration stopovers for many species of shorebirds and waterfowl.

KWEC is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of wetland communities and the need for conservation and restoration. The facility offers state-of-the-art exhibits that tell the story from formation to the challenges of conserving wetlands for the future. Visitors can also experience bird watching on the wetland, which attracts untold numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl during migration. In addition, tour options are available, including both guided van tours and self-guided driving tours.

“We are fortunate to have a natural treasure like Cheyenne Bottoms in our state, and since this center opened in April 2009, it has provided a gateway for visitors to understand and appreciate why these wetlands are unique and why we need to protect them,” said Dr. Mirta M. Martin, FHSU president.

 “The opening of the KWEC more than six years ago was a monumental chapter in the long history of Cheyenne Bottoms,” said Curtis Wolf, site manager of the Wetlands Center.

“The $4.6 million project was funded fully through grants and private donations, not state general funds. The only way the KWEC exists today is because of donors, volunteers, partners and community members who believe in the importance of our local wetland and natural resources,” he added.

The Kansas Wetlands Education Center is free and open year-round to visitors:

• April 1 - Oct. 31: Open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

• Nov. 1 - March 31: Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

For more information about the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, visit