Articles By: Jean Aycock

Jean Aycock is an Educator at Ft. Hays State University’s Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) at Cheyenne Bottoms. Jean received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry – Wildlife Management from Mississippi State University, and a Master of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Arkansas-Monticello, studying shorebird migration. Jean is a native of southeast Missouri, and an avid birder, hiker, and crafter.

The Wetland Explorer – Celebrate World Wetlands Day!

This article appeared in the Great Bend Tribune on Sunday, January 27th as part of the monthly KWEC column, The Wetland Explorer. What will you be doing on February 2nd?  Spending a quiet Saturday at home?  Taking the family out for some winter fun?  How about taking a moment to celebrate all the amazing things wetlands do for our environment? February 2nd is World Wetlands Day!  It marks the 1971 signing of the Ramsar Convention, […]

Perseid Meteor Shower Party

The Kansas Wetlands Education Center is hosting a viewing party for the 2013 Perseid Meteor Shower!  Join us at the KWEC at 9 pm on Sunday, August 11th for a FREE fun filled family evening of crafts, snacks, and stargazing. The Perseid Meteor Shower happens every year in the beginning of August when the earth passes through the trail of dust and debris left by the Swift-Tuttle comet.  It’s one of the most exciting meteor […]

Meet the Critters! The Ornate Box Turtle

This week on Meet the Critters, we’re introducing you to the state reptile of Kansas: the ornate box turtle!  This turtle is a protected species in Kansas, as well as five other Midwestern states (Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconson).  The ornate box turtle is a species of concern in these states because they are vulnerable to threats from several areas.  Agriculture and development are two of the biggest threats to these turtles.  Ornate box […]

Meet the Critters! The Yellow Mud Turtle

This week, we’re meeting the yellow mud turtle!  The yellow mud turtle is an abundant resident of Cheyenne Bottoms, living in quiet, still water, preferably in areas with a muddy bottom.  They spend their days hanging out in the mud, hunting for food.  They are also well adapted to surviving droughts, they will burrow into the mud to avoid the baking heat.  During winter, they either burrow into the mud, or take up residence in […]

Meet the Critters! The Bullsnake

After a Thanksgiving break, we’re back with this week’s Meet the Critters!  The star of this week’s show is the bullsnake, also known as the gopher snake.  We’ve got a beautiful bullsnake here at the KWEC, she was caught as a very young snake right when the Center opened in 2009.  She’s about 3 years old, and bullsnakes in captivity can live to over 30 years!  Today, our bullsnake is over 6 feet long and […]

Meet the Critters! The Six-lined Racerunner

Meet the six-lined racerunner!  An abundant inhabitant of the United States, the six-lined racerunner is known for its lightning quick speed – they’ve been clocked at 18 mph!  Found mostly in warm, dry areas such as open fields or sparse woods, this lizard darts around at ground level, rarely climbing. Six-lined racerunners eat a wide variety of invertebrates, from crickets to flies to spiders.  They eat so many insects that in several states they  are […]

Meet the Critters! The Great Plains Toad

Our classroom is home to over 30 live critters native to Cheyenne Bottoms.  This week, we’d like to introduce you to the Great Plains toad.  We have two Great Plains toads here at KWEC, a male and a female.  This nocturnal species is very long lived, up to 10 years in captivity. The Great Plains toad is found throughout the western United States.  They prefer to live in grasslands near water, which makes Cheyenne Bottoms […]

Meet the Critters! The Big Brown Bat

Meet the big brown bat!  We’ve got three of these little guys here at the KWEC, and they’re some of our favorite critters.  Myths about bats are everywhere, so we’ll try to clear some of those up this week! Myth #1: Bats are blind.  Not true!  All bat species can see.  However, since they hunt at night, they have evolved to use their hearing rather than their sight. Myth #2:  Bats will try to fly […]