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Sean Jenkins, Director of Kibbe Life Science Station
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A bald eagle finds food near Keokuk's Lock and Dam 19
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Excitement of the Seasons at Western's Kibbe Field Station

May 18, 2006

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MACOMB, IL - - Experience the excitement of the seasons with two-day back-to-nature field trips to Western Illinois University’s Kibbe Life Sciences Field Station, a nationally recognized natural resource and study area adjacent to the Mississippi River near Warsaw (IL), just 40 miles west of Macomb.

The field trips are a cooperative effort between Western Illinois’ biology department and College of Arts and Sciences. Each trip will begin early Friday afternoon and continue overnight through lunch Saturday.

"This is an excellent opportunity for the public to experience the unspoiled beauty and tranquility offered at the station,” said Inessa Levi, dean of Western’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Participants will also gain first-hand knowledge of the research activities that are conducted at Kibbe for our graduate and undergraduate students, as well as high school students from around the country."

The series kicks off Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 with the late spring “Birds and Bees” field trip at Kibbe. This trip is during the nesting season for many of the birds that inhabit the field station environments. Males are often still in breeding plumage, the birds are still very vocal, and high levels of activity can be found in the woodland and grasslands as the birds hunt for food. For best viewing, Saturday’s outing starts early in the morning. Also, many of the wildflowers that prosper in the varied habitats are in bloom. Cameras are on the packing list.

Participants will “Meet Old Man River” Friday-Saturday, Aug. 18-19 on the late summer field trip. With almost five miles of shoreline and associated floodplain forests, the field station has a direct link to the river. Pollywog for clams, capture turtles or conduct surveys of some of the fishes of the river. Be sure to bring clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and muddy on those hot summer days.

During fall, the area at and around the field station comes alive with birds migrating for the season, for the Friday-Saturday, Oct. 13-14 field trip “Headin’ South.” Located in the heart of the Mid-continental Migratory Corridor and along a major river, the area welcomes everything from hummingbirds to pelicans. Waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, a tremendous variety of perching birds and hawks all can be found in a single day of bird watching.

The final field trip, “Eagles and Icicles,” is scheduled for Friday-Saturday, Jan. 19-20, 2007. The area is a haven for wintering American bald eagles. As the eagle's primary feeding areas in Canada and Alaska begin to freeze over, the birds fly south to find fish in the open waters. Warms clothes, gloves and boots are necessary for this trip.

The fee for each field trip is $75 which includes dinner Friday and breakfast and lunch Saturday as well as overnight lodging (double occupancy) in the new multipurpose facility which includes two dormitory wings, each with its own bathroom and shower facilities. Sheets, pillows and towels are provided. Guests should bring personal toiletries, robes and a sense of humor and adventure.

Alternative hotel accommodations are available in Keokuk, IA with group discounts at the Fairfield Inn (319/524-9000, reservation code: Hank/Kibbe) and Holiday Inn Express (319/524-8000, reservation code: 6530-3392).

The Kibbe Life Sciences Field Station is a non-smoking facility. Because of the threat of brush fire, outdoor smoking is permitted only in designated areas.

Kibbe Field Station includes 415 acres owned by Western Illinois University, 587 acres by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and 697 acres by the Illinois Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. The site is managed through a cooperative agreement between the three landowners.

Western’s biology department began conducting summer classes in 1966 and has held summer sessions at the site ever since. The nature preserve, which is home to a diversity of plant and animal species, provides students with hands-on experience in field research, as well as offering the general public an opportunity to commune with nature.

For more information about the “Excitement of the Seasons at Kibbe” field trip series, contact the WIU College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, 309/298-1828.

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