Home » Afield and Afloat » Midland Musings with Jenny Nguyen: Ponca Expo School Day

Midland Musings with Jenny Nguyen: Ponca Expo School Day

I attended my first Missouri River Expo a couple weeks ago, and I had a great time! For those who have never been (which may not be many of you), the Expo runs for 3 days in September — Friday, Saturday and Sunday. While Saturday and Sunday are open to the public and are the busiest days, Friday is only open to elementary schools. Nearly a thousand 5th graders this year received a private sneak peek before the general public and was able to do fun outdoor activities that they wouldn’t normally be able to do at home or in the classroom.

Like in the “A Bird in Hand” workshop, students learned about different kinds of birds and their special characteristics.

Conservation Officers Alex Frohberg and Dan Roberts challenged students to think about the importance of laws and regulations at the “Conservation Corner” workshop.

The student below is trying to figure out what a particular animal did and what happened by looking at paw prints and evidence at “Critter Scene Investigation.”

By George! By the look on his face, I think he’s onto something. Or maybe he’s just scared of the hovering photographer.

Of course, no expo is complete without a snake or two.

And mud. YES, mud is good for children’s souls. This is a mud ball filled with seeds of native grasses. Instructors told students that they could fling their mud balls where they want grasses to grow at home.

Hissing cockroaches… not my favorite things. But the kids loved them.

My favorite workshop was “American Idol Game Calling,” where groups of students competed in calling ducks, geese, deer, turkey… you name it.

And well, I have to say that I heard sounds that I’ve never heard before in my life…

The competitors made good use of available props and costume.

The “Nature Photography” workshop was taught by the magazine’s very own Donna Robinson. I let some of the students hold my cameras and it was funny to watch them freak out over how heavy they were.

In between workshops, I also learned that it is tradition for staff members at the archery range to mass attack the moose, and then quickly scramble to pull out all the arrows before the arrival of the next class… Hey, instructors have fun, too!

And at the shooting ranges, kids who have never shot a gun before received one on one instruction in shooting .22s and muzzleloaders.

With more attendance than ever before, Expo School Day this year was a big success. If you’re a parent, teacher or student who’s interested in having your school come out, contact Ponca State Park next year to find out how to register.

About Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

NEBRASKAland Associate Editor Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, and moved to the United States with her parents in 1992. She graduated from Bolsa Grande High School in Garden Grove, California, in 2008 and completed her bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 2012. Wheatley was editor-in-chief for her high school newspaper and continued to write in college, freelancing for various publications, the Tiger Woods Foundation and writing for her blog FoodForHunters.com. After graduating college, she moved to Nebraska in early 2013 to join the Commission as Regional Editor at NEBRASKAland Magazine. She then became associate editor in 2015. Wheatley enjoys hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing and wild game cooking.

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