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Published September 13 2007

Center provides budding scientists with hands-on experience

Fergus Falls, Minn. - Everyday Lauren Angus forgets she’s a student in favor of trying out a different title: budding environmentalist.

She and fifth-graders in the Fergus Falls School District travel to the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, located near Fergus Falls, where science lessons become hands-on.

The center, the first residential environmental education center operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, educates more than 40,000 Minnesota students annually on the importance of prairies, wetlands, the ecosystem, conservation and a host of other environmental science topics.

Students like Angus participate in activities like measuring prairie grass, or banding ducks in conjunction with classroom lectures.

“It doesn’t seem like class. It’s really fun,” said Angus, 10.

“We’re always making new discoveries here,” chipped in fifth-grader Kate Rinke.

Now more students will have a chance to unearth new information when the center expands next year.

A $2 million, 12,000-square-foot expansion will allow the Fergus Falls School District to expand education at the center to fourth-graders. Four more classrooms will be constructed in the center’s education center.

Read more Friday in The Forum.