Volume 2 • Issue 1 • January 2008

Goddard Youth Camp

Nature Through the Eyes of a Child

Deep in the Arbuckle Mountains lies a camp that is quite unique.  So unique, in fact that it has been termed a “National Environmental Education Landmark.”  Each year about 5,000 students, grades K through 12, spend anywhere from one day to one week learning about nature at Goddard Youth Camp. They study the environment, water resources, plants, animals, rocks, fossils, and much more. Goddard Youth Camp is located approximately 7 miles south and 3 miles west of Sulphur, along the south shore of the Lake of the Arbuckles.

Educators come to familiarize themselves with the trails and visit with others about past experiences at the camp.
Since 1966, Goddard Youth Camp has provided children a chance to learn through four separate and distinct trails, each with its own trail guide.  This guide specifies stops to make and meets the Oklahoma state education requirements. 

“I enjoy my job more than I can even explain,” Goddard Youth Camp Director Wayne Edgar says.  “Being able to introduce children to a new side of nature and see them appreciate the outdoors and wildlife is the most rewarding part of any given day.”

Every September, Edgar leads a workshop to assist educators in developing a teaching guide for their own class’ use.  “We have termed this weekend an ‘outdoor learning boot camp’ and limited it to just adults,” Edgar said.   “The camp’s seasoned staff will not teach you, but provide you the knowledge to teach yourself how to present your lesson plans.”

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is developing a similar area at Arcadia Lake in central Oklahoma.  This area, known as Arcadia Conservation Education Area, was previously introduced in the October edition of The Wild Side.  Curriculum is currently being developed to coincide with a nature trail.

Written by Lesley B. Carson. Lesley is the Wildlife Diversity Information Specialist for the Department of Wildlife. Lesley enjoys quail and pheasant hunting with her family and German Shorthair Pointers.

Oologah WMA

Northeastern Oklahoma's Gateway to Variety

Situated in Nowata and Rogers Counties in northeastern Oklahoma is the Oologah Wildlife Management Area. The Oologah WMA covers 12,941 acres of grassland and forest where you will have the opportunity to see a wide variety of plant and animal life.

The river bottoms of the Oologah WMA are home to several species of oak trees along with pecan and willow trees. As you travel closer to the lake you will also see locust, button bush, willow, hackberry and elm, along with many native grasses.

After aerial seeding with millet for waterfowl, biologist Scott Cox loads an air boat onto a Department of Wildlife trailer.
Whether you are hiking or driving through the Oologah Wildlife Management Area you will want to keep your eyes open for the various species of wildlife that call this area home. There is a wide variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians that can be seen in this area if you are looking. A few of the animals that you might encounter here are bobwhite quail, white tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, doves, waterfowl, songbirds, opossums, bats, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, hawks, eagles and many more.

If you are camping overnight or driving through on a day trip, the Oologah Wildlife Management area is a great place to see some of Oklahoma’s native wildlife in a beautiful setting.

Written by Jennifer Benge. Jennifer is an Education Technician with the Department of Wildlife and enjoys trail riding with her horse Satin.

Bluebird Nest Box Survey

Keep Watch for These Year-Round Residents

Eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) and mountain bluebirds (Sialia currucoides) can both be observed in Oklahoma year round.

Eastern bluebirds can be seen in all seasons and areas of the state. They have benefited from the efforts of many adoring fans with the placing of hundreds of nest boxes throughout the state. The eastern bluebird has blue wings and tail with an orange breast. You will see these colorful birds around open woodland and woodland-edge habitats. They are cavity nesters and usually produce 2 to 3 broods per year. In Oklahoma the eastern bluebird populations have increased since 1966 according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

Mountain bluebirds are a rare visitor to our state.  Nests have been observed in Cimarron County and winter observations have occurred further south and west in the state. The male is a pale blue overall with a small white area on the lower belly and the female is usually grayish to brownish in color. The mountain bluebird can be observed in woodland edges and shortgrass prairies. This species has also tended to increase from 1966 according to the Breeding Bird Survey.

Watch for these two bluebirds this winter and think about where you will put up your new nestbox in February so you can participate in our Bluebird Nestbox Survey next year.

Click here to view past Bluebird Nestbox Surveys.

Written by Brett Cooper. Brett is a graduate student studying Wildlife Ecology at Oklahoma State University and observed a mountain bluebird in Harper County in January of 2007.

Our Mission:

The WILDLIFE DIVERSITY PROGRAM monitors and manages the state's wildlife and fish species that are not hunted or fished.