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Graduate Program

The Kansas Wetlands Education Center, in partnership with the Fort Hays State University Department of Biological Sciences, offers four Graduate Wetlands Assistantships (GWA) each semester. Graduate Assistants work part-time at the KWEC, while also taking classes at FHSU and working on graduate thesis projects.  Duties of the GWAs at the KWEC include interacting with visitors to the Center, leading van tours of Cheyenne Bottoms, giving interpretive talks about the wetlands, assisting KWEC Educators with environmental education programs, and animal husbandry.

Download GWA position description.

GWAs are encouraged to conduct their graduate research on wetlands, and the KWEC has a lab facility that can be utilized by the GWAs while they are working on their projects.

If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Biology at FHSU and working at the KWEC, please contact Curtis Wolf, KWEC site manager.

Several graduate thesis projects have focused on research on the local wetlands or surrounding areas, including:


  • Waring, Elizabeth. 2010. Flooding tolerance of native and nonnative grasses: variation in photosynthesis, transpiration, respiration, and carbon isotope discrimination
  • Kane, Stephanie.  2011.  Breeding habitat structure and use by Kansas-occurring Black Rail
  • Pinkall, Ryan. 2012.  Distributional survey and habitat associations of the crayfishes in the Kansas, Missouri, and Republican river basins in Kansas
  • Schmidt, Scott. 2014
  • Black, Jason. 2014.  Human dimensions of waterfowl hunters at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, Barton County, Kansas
  • Helms, Clinton. 2014.  Nest survival of grassland breeding birds in a southern mixed-grass prairie wetland. Click here to access important public materials on managing grassland nesting birds.
  • Zinke, Brian. 2014. Comparison of small mammal communities in ephemeral wetlands and wet meadows during drought
  • Mead, Josh. 2016. Spacial ecology of the Western Massasauga (Sistrurus tergeminus) in a large interior wetland
  • Holaday, Gentry. 2017. Evaluation of plant communities at Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve
  • Granstrom-Arndt, Kirsten. 2019. Relationship between birds and vegetation with The Nature Conservancy property within Cheyenne Bottoms
  • Brandt, Sonja. 2023. Cliff Swallow Banding