Hartshorne GEAR UP Students Tour the Oklahoma Aquarium

18 Hartshorne freshman and sophomore GEAR UP students recently toured the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, Oklahoma. GEAR UP students started the day with the Director of Education and Research Ann Money with a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium. She pointed out that while Oklahoma may be distant from the nearest ocean, our ecosystems are connected by the Arkansas River.  She emphasized that when we care for our local environment, we care for the world’s environment. Money guided students through the small and large animal quarantine facilities where biologists care for animals before placing them on exhibit. The aquarium is home to approximately 10,000 animals, including the largest collection of bull sharks in the world. Throughout the tour, Money explained that the Oklahoma Aquarium conducts research in coral reef health, shark husbandry, and water filtration.  Students concluded the behind-the-scenes tour in the aquarium’s kitchen, where they learned how they plan menus and schedule feedings for the animals in the aquarium. After the behind-the-scenes tour, the students went on a self-guided tour of the museum where they explored the Shark Tunnel and other exhibits such as the Ozark Stream, Aquatic Oklahoma, and Sea Turtle Island- home to a 350 lb. loggerhead turtle! The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College’s GEAR UP program. Eastern received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant in 2017, and will serve more than 3,000 students in 31 area schools for seven years.

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