Students visit Konza Prairie to see nature


Katya Tarabrina

Hallie Hatfield shows students what to use to catch the vertebrates in the creek.

Katya Tarabrina, Blue M Organizations Editor

It’s not usually normal for students to be looking for vertebrates as a class assignment, but for Rachel Fontenot’s first-hour Sculpture class, that was the case.

On Wednesday, Fontenot’s class visited the Konza Prairie, something Fontenot only did once before with her Drawing and Painting class. 

The trip took place from 9 a.m. until about 11 a.m.

Students took a bus to the prairie and were greeted there by Hallie Hatfield, Jill Haukos and Jen Spearie, who are educators working with the Kansas Environmental Education Program.

When the students got to the creek, which comes from a spring water source, Hatfield started showing them which equipment to use to capture the creatures. The water was shallow but also deep in different areas. As they were walking through water, rubber boots were provided for every student by the Konza Prairie. 

Katya Tarabrina
Students bend down to look for anything living in the creek. They went on the creek as part of a field trip to learn about nature’s impact on art.

After the students finished, they traveled back to a small cabin that had classrooms inside. The students went inside to examine what they had caught. Many were surprised by what they had found. 

“[I enjoyed] seeing the different types of nature,” junior Taryn Johnson said.

Afterward, they had a picnic outside. Everybody had to bring a packed lunch with them on the trip as they would be missing lunch at school that day.

Many students get tired sitting in a classroom all day, so being outside and walking around doing stuff was really enjoyable for students in this class.

“It was like carefree and like it was a break from school so that was nice,” junior Mario Caycedo said. 

Often, students prefer doing something more interactive, and that was shown in the feedback Fontenot had. The class did so well that Fontenot plans on taking more classes on field trips like this in the future.

“[The class] rocked it today,” Fontenot said. “Like the interest level in what we were doing, and like getting things done, and like finding things, it was fantastic. [The class] blew away my expectations of what would happen.”

Students got to enjoy getting out of school and being outdoors, as well as enjoy spending time with other classmates, whether they are new or returning. 

“My favorite part of visiting the prairie was definitely hanging out with other people,” Caycedo said. 

The trip was a favorite to students and a break from the regular school day.

“I think it’s a beautiful area that I think a lot of students should come see,” Johnson said. “Just being out in nature, you feel lifted.”