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Museum’s Earth Day celebration to include night-time nature hike

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- This year’s Earth Day celebration at Bethel College’s Kauffman Museum will give visitors a chance to appreciate nature without having to wander too far. The activities will include a night hike along the Sand Creek Trail and a night sky viewing from the Mabee Observatory on campus. The events will take place from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, April 21 (Earth Day is actually April 22).

The evening will commence at 7 p.m. in the museum auditorium with a presentation entitled "What are croaking frogs telling us?" by Dwight Platt, North Newton, Bethel College professor emeritus of biology. "Many frog and toad populations worldwide have been declining or gone extinct since the 1970s, even in relatively pristine areas," said Andi Schmidt Andres, Kauffman Museum curator of education. "Dwight’s presentation will include possible causes and what we can learn from these amphibian declines."

After Platt speaks, visitors will listen to and learn to identify taped frog and owl sounds. Then, at 8 p.m., Platt will lead the group on a hike along Sand Creek Trail to listen for real frogs and owls. Those wishing to participate in the hike should meet at Kauffman Museum, at the corner of 27th and Main, at 7:45 p.m.

From 9-10 p.m., visitors are invited to observe the night sky from the Mabee Observatory on the top floor of Krehbiel Science Center. Afterward, they can gather at Memorial Grove--near the Sand Creek trailhead and just northeast of Krehbiel Science Center--to roast marshmallows.

"Kauffman Museum tells the story of the tallgrass prairie that was here when immigrants arrived in the 1870s, but we also hope to help people appreciate and protect the environment in Kansas today," Andres said. "Being outside and becoming more familiar with our surroundings on the night hike and in the observatory will help foster that appreciation."

Participants are asked to bring their own flashlights. The museum will provide supplies for roasting marshmallows.

Because all activities will take place outdoors, they will be cancelled in case of heavy rain or storms. If there is only light rain, the frog and owl hike will still go on, Andres says, but the observatory visit and campfire will be cancelled. A cloudy evening means the observatory will be closed but other activities will take place as scheduled.

There is no charge, no reservations are required and people of all ages are welcome. For more information, call the museum at (316) 283-1612. Regular museum hours are 9:30-4:30 Tuesday-Friday and 1:30-4:30 Saturday and Sunday (closed Monday).

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