Area students got a taste of the real prairie experience last Wednesday: wind, bugs and all. The students and teachers from Legacy and Century high schools visited Ducks Unlimited's Coteau Ranch, north of Wing, as a field trip for their summer school biology class.

Ducks Unlimited has organized the field trip annually since 2008. The trip allowed students to learn firsthand how DU conducts waterfowl research. Summer school students visited four stations, where they studied some of the prairie grasses and flowers grown on the ranch; duck food found in wetlands, including insects and vegetation; and nesting habits. This year, the students also got a demonstration of the current nesting research being conducted at the ranch.

"The reason I got into biology was because of summer field trips. There is only so much you can learn in the classroom, and being exposed to field biologists can inspire students to consider it as a career option," said DU wildlife biologist Mason Sieges. The event gave students the opportunity to get out of the classroom for a day and see biology in action.

The property is in the heart of the Missouri Coteau, a part of the Prairie Pothole Region. This area provides some of the best nesting habitat in the world.

DU biologists and staff taught the students the importance of grasslands and wetlands to humans and wildlife. Sieges said learning about the role of wetlands and grasslands in storing flood waters, purifying drinking water, and reducing soil erosion can help students make better land-use decisions in the future.