Earth Week at Pittsburg State University is focused not only on "green" behaviors such as recycling, but also on getting to know about nature in the area.



Nature Reach, a program at the university, was open during the morning hours Wednesday for members of the campus and community to find out more about the program and what it does.

Earth Week at Pittsburg State University is focused not only on "green" behaviors such as recycling, but also on getting to know about nature in the area.

Nature Reach, a program at the university, was open during the morning hours Wednesday for members of the campus and community to find out more about the program and what it does.


"I just want to let people know that Nature Reach is here," Lister said of the open house.


Lister said the area, which is home to about 50 animals, reptiles, amphibians and more, is not open on a regular basis because she spends a lot of her time teaching or touring with the animals and educating students about the world around them.


"Many of the animals live in the same places we live and we don't know much about them," she said. "If they don't understand who lives around them, then they don't care."


Nature Reach works to remedy that, and Lister said she has conducted about 140 programs this school year and travels all around the four-state area with the animals.


She said Nature Reach is a successful way to help students get in touch with the world around them.


"This is definitely a way to hook them into nature," Lister said, adding that the most successful program she does is the raptor program, which includes hawks, owls and falcons. 


"We try to keep as many natives as we can," she said of the other species she cares for at Nature Reach. 


These include some of Kansas' official critters, such as the Barred Tiger Salamander, which is the state amphibian and the Ornate Box Turtle, the state reptile. Also living at Nature Reach are ferrets, prairie dogs and several types of snakes.


Lister shared stories of how several of the animals came to Nature Reach during the open house, and she also talked about what it takes to keep them healthy.


Part of her job at Pitt State also is sharing care techniques with her students, which she does through her animal care and interpretation courses.


"You've got to think about the natural history of the animal and what it needs," Lister said.


Lister said several people came through during the morning hours.


"I think it is actually pretty successful so far," she said.


Lister said the past few years a donor has helped to cover the cost of the programs, but that a fundraiser for Nature Reach will take place Saturday.


That morning, a benefit bike ride will begin at Gorilla Village at 9:30 a.m.


"They're going out to the reserve where the raptors are kept," Lister said.


The cost is $10 and the ride will be about six miles out to the reserve, then the six miles back.


More information on Nature Reach is available by calling Lister at Pittsburg State.