OWLS Site Features

Learning sites vary in size and character as each is tailored to the school grounds/area being considered.

Each site should contain at least a planting of small trees and shrubs, such as a songbird bundle, and/or a plot of native prairie. The water feature could consist of a frog pool, a segment of creek, or even a larger marsh or pond.

Each site may be customized to the available landscape and designed to achieve specific learning objectives. OWLS areas may range from a small plot of native shrubs and prairie, with a small pool in a corner of the school yard, to sites that feature several of the following possibilities:

Each site may be customized to the available landscape and designed to achieve specific learning objectives. OWLS areas may range from a small plot of native shrubs and prairie, with a small pool in a corner of the school yard, to sites that feature several of the following possibilities:

  • Feeding stations for birds, squirrels, etc.
  • Shrubs that represent woody songbird plantings.
  • Butterfly and/or hummingbird gardens.
  • Stands of native prairie managed by prescribed burning or mowing.
  • Woody plantings that include trees and shrubs to be used as nesting, cover, food, and perching sites (may be associated with feeding stations).
  • Nesting structures for songbirds, geese, and small mammals.
  • Trails through woodland and prairie sites.
  • Water: a lined pond, ground level tank, or developed wetland incorporating wetland plant species.

Additional Considerations and Options

  • Use native plants whenever possible.
  • Incorporate xeriscaping concepts to reduce demands on water and other natural resources, and to help foster a stronger concern for water conservation in Kansas.
  • Incorporate feeding stations to bring wildlife into view where they can be identified, observed, counted and recorded.
  • Use bird nesting boxes to observe behavior and reproductive activities.
  • Utilize brush piles to provide cover and nesting sites for wildlife.
  • Consider weather stations to help correlate weather to habitat conditions and animal behavior.
  • Construct an area with animal tracks pressed into clay or cement to help students learn to find and identify tracks in the wild.
  • Incorporate trails and interpretive signs to offer students a chance to learn about wildlife by preparing material.
  • Consider time capsules to relate current wildlife issues to future students.
  • Consider fencing, if needed, to ensure protection of the site.
  • Include teachers, administrators, maintenance staff, students, parents, and community resource people in the planning, implementation, and maintenance of the site and development of learning activities.
  • Apply learning activities that are site-specific and encompass many disciplines, such as science, math, art, writing, and social sciences.
  • Utilize or modify site activities from KDWPT Wildlife Education Service (WES) learning activities and from programs such as Project Learning Tree (PLT), Project WILD (PW), and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) activities, along with those offered through the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE), Project WET (WET), and various other workshops.
  • Establish a Wildlife Reference Center (WRC) in the school to house WES and other curricular materials, field and lab equipment, texts, references, field guides, etc.

Bird and Squirrel Feeding Stations

Even school yards with severely limited space have areas where feeding stations can be integrated. Feeders are an excellent way to bring birds and squirrels into view and involve students with wildlife by visual contact. These can incorporated into new learning sites on the school grounds or into existing shrubs and trees near the building.

HINT: Maintain a feeder effectively; adopt it to an appointed classroom or grade. Depending on the number of feeders, a classroom may maintain the entire station or a single feeder, or feeder maintenance may be rotated among grades or classrooms.

NOTE: Kits for students to assemble are available through KDWPT.