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Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge Honors Conservation Champions During National Wildlife Refuge Week at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge

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Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge Honors Conservation Champions During National Wildlife Refuge Week at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge

Since 1995, the second full week of October has been officially recognized as National Wildlife Refuge Week. During this week, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service invites Americans across the nation to visit one of their 562 National Wildlife Refuges to learn what these treasured places have to offer to each and every person. Many refuges host celebrations and special events to highlight wildlife conservation. Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge is a proud part of the National Wildlife Refuge System and they unveiled their newly constructed Conservation Garden on October 16th.
The Conservation Garden concept began with the passing of a dear friend, avid conservationist, and dedicated volunteer of the refuge, Charlie Watkins. So, the Conservation Garden was created to honor conservation efforts of those associated with the establishment and development of Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, and also provide historical, interpretative, and educational opportunities for visitors to the refuge.

The Conservation Champions include (from left to right in the attached pic): Lee Andrews (Frankfort, KY), Rick Huffines (Signal Mountain, TN), Russ Kennedy (Frankfort, KY), Donald Frick (Boaz, KY), Happy Chambers (Murray, KY), Judge Mike Miller (Benton, KY), Linette Hamilton (west Paducah, KY), Nakia brown (Wingo, KY), Marti Wiles accepted on behalf of Senator Mitch Mcconnell, Denita Allen (Benton, KY), and Larry Cox (Louisille, KY).
Not pictured: Doug Galyen (Benton, KY), Don Orr (Germantown, TN), Mike Dawson (Clinton, MS), Mike Boatwright (Paducah, KY), and Tom Bennett (Frankfort, KY).

Before the unveiling of the garden, Refuge Manager, Michael Johnson, recognized the individuals who were the first Clarks River National Wildlife Conservation Champion inductees. These individuals have demonstrated unwavering support and significantly given of their time and talents to ensure the wildlife conservation contributions of the refuge to western Kentucky and future generations were successful.

Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1997. It is one of over 560 National Wildlife Refuges across the country. The refuge currently owns approximately 10,000 acres located in Marshall, McCracken, and Graves Counties.​
The Connect to nature program is facilitated by the refuge and the refuge friends group and consists of curriculum based classroom activities conducted by these teachers. These preparations are followed by a day trip to the refuge for hands on activities. The teachers have the kids very excited and well prepared when they arrive. It is always amazing to see how much they know about the refuge and conservation when they arrive. The day with the students is spent taking nature hikes, capturing and banding migratory songbirds, sampling the river for macro invertebrates and taking photos for a stewardship project they will complete upon their return to school.

These teachers oversee the stewardship projects which are aimed at reinforcing what the students learned and to raise awareness about wildlife conservation within their families and within their schools. This project usually consists of a scrapbook, a powerpoint presentation, display boards or workbooks individually created by each student.

The Connect to Nature program is considered a huge success and is only possible because of these teachers. Together, they account for more than 2,000 students being able to participate in hands-on refuge experiences.... That does not include the bus drivers who also tend to get involved once on site. They have contributed significantly to the future of conservation and to the refuge through their efforts.

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