Bismarck Century summer biology students took a field trip to the Ducks Unlimited's Coteau Ranch this past week. The ranch is located near Wing, N.D. and is in the heart of the Missouri Coteau, a part of the Prairie Pothole Region that provides some of the best nesting habitat in the world. With this habitat just an hour drive away, it provides students with a valuable look into the biology, ecology and hydrology of the land.
"Our vision for the Coteau Ranch is to provide a place for people to learn and recreate habitat," said Steve Adair, DU director of the Great Plains Region. "We have seen that the hands-on learning students experience on the ranch has a lasting impact."
DU has organized the field trip annually since 2008. Sophomore biology students visit four different stations while at the ranch. Stations include grasses and other plants of the prairie, duck nesting habitat, and the famous "duck soup". The duck soup station explains what ducks eat in wetlands, from fresh-water shrimp to bugs.
Students also learned why grassland and wetlands are important for wildlife and humans.
"When students learn the role of wetlands and grasslands in storing flood waters, purifying drinking water and reducing soil erosion, they can help us all make better land-use decisions in the future," Adair said.