LeFlore seventh and eighth grade GEAR UP students recently visited the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Nature Center located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center sits on 170 acres of land in Fort Smith that were previously part of Fort Chaffee. Exhibits play a large part in the nature center. In addition to the interactive displays and exhibits, the center houses a classroom for educational programs such as the Hunter’s Safety and Boating Safety courses. LeFlore students participated in three activities while at the Nature Center—laser shot, archery, and a guided hike around the property.
Students participated in the laser shot activities that included learning gun safety and conservation of animals. Students used a computer-generated laser gun activity to learn aiming techniques and gun safety. They also learned about hunting laws and why those laws are in place.
Then they moved to archery where they learned about techniques and safety. Several of the GEAR UP students are in an archery program at LeFlore School. The experience helped them improve techniques and safety.
inally, students had a guided hike around the Wells Lake. They learned how to identify trees, common wildlife, and birds. Students walked around the Nature Center and learned about the different types of animals that are found in the Arkansas area.
“Educational tours are an important part of Eastern’s GEAR UP program,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Tara Martin.
The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. In 2017, Eastern received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and serves over 3,000 students in 39 area schools.