Accompanied by their teacher Doug Elliott, the students traveled to Welder Wildlife Refuge Mar. 19-20 to extend their study of ecology. The seniors left school early Tuesday morning and returned the next day just in time for sports practices.
“It’s a chance to give the students some outdoor education in ecology because today we’re back in the classroom and here at the board,” Elliott said.
The class began by touring the museum.
“We did a neat activity with owl pellets,” Elliott said. “They have an owl that roosts right outside the front door, and we poked apart the pellets to see what the owls had been eating.”
Seniors studied material ranging from food change to nitrogen fixation in mesquite plants, completing a succession to analyze how environments change over time.
When they were not setting traps, the students and teachers could be found kayaking down the Aransas River, enjoying fajitas, or inspecting antlions, insects that eat ants.
“The stars of the trip were probably the antlions. We would grab these big red ants called harvester ants and toss them on the antlions, which would eat them,” Elliott said.
“Mr. Elliott stopped to feed unsuspecting ants to the voracious ant lions every five minutes,” senior Marsha Zhang said. “It was fascinating to see the ants trying to escape the carnage.”
Tuesday night, the group rode in trucks with beam spot lights to see animals, including deer, rabbits, alligators and javelina.
“I enjoyed the spotlight tour at night on which we spotted many promiscuous rabbits,” Zhang said.
Students were able to spend time unwinding with their friends as well as learn about gathering data on animal species populations.
“On the second day, we went hiking, and we stopped at this gorgeous meadow which was like a scene out of a book,” senior Natasha Kumar said. “It was quite lush and serene.”
“The experience of walking around in a preserved area of wildlife made me feel really in touch with nature,” said Pranav Bhamidipati. “My favorite part was that I got to bond with my classmates away from the stress of school and in such a peaceful natural environment.”