Wetlands conservation connecting to curriculum

International Wetlands Day was celebrated on February 2nd to observe the importance of the ecosystem. Only 4,000 of the 20,000 acres of the Nebraska Native Eastern Saline Wetlands are still intact today and only half of the entire world’s wetlands remain intact. 

So, what is the big deal anyways? Nebraska is naturally composed of wetlands that have many benefits to both animals and humans, yet this delicate ecosystem is disappearing. Wetlands naturally filter water that moves through them, removing harmful substances like nitrates from water that Lincoln residents use. Over 90% of the drinking water Nebraska residents use comes from groundwater, which is naturally filtered by wetlands. Due to the fact that wetlands hold water, they are also crucial to preventing flooding and erosion which have proven to be disastrous for Nebraska. 

Wetlands are also a critical habitat for many different animal species. The disappearance of wetlands affects all amphibian populations and half of the bird and plant populations in Nebraska. The Salt Creek tiger beetle is completely dependent on the Saline Wetlands and is endangered due to the disappearing ecosystem. 

All of this information helps us understand that wetlands conservation is vital so Nebraska residents and animal populations can continue to thrive. North Star is an example of a school showing they care about Nebraska’s wetlands. North Star biology teacher, Tracie Chapo, has been using the wetlands outside of her school as a living laboratory ensuring multiple state standards are taught, while also teaching students and the community about the importance of wetlands. Chapo teaches about migration, competition, hibernation, biodiversity, food webs, and more, all through the North Star wetlands.