Clarks River Wildlife Refuge Adapts Programming For Coronavirus Closures

Mar 24, 2020

Credit Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge

Recreation agencies across the nation, including in west Kentucky, are adapting programming for continuing education efforts while promoting social distancing.

As public-facing businesses and most government offices cease in-person services, experts recommend staying active by taking walks, visiting parks and enjoying America’s public lands. The U.S. Department of the Interior suspended entry fees at national wildlife refuges to encourage Americans to visit the spaces.

 “When CDC guidance is followed, a national wildlife refuge can be the perfect antidote to cabin fever and a boon to our mental wellbeing during this unprecedented time,” said Interior Department Service Director Aurelia Skipwith.

Benton-based Clarks River Wildlife Refuge is one of the areas residents are encouraged to visit to hike and enjoy the outdoors. However, the refuge’s administrative offices are closed to the public to allow most employees to work remotely. That hasn’t stopped Education Specialist Stacey Hayden from transitioning the refuge’s wide portfolio of education programs to an online format.

“We’ve gone to doing more online posts, videos, Facebook Lives,” Hayden said. “Some of the activities are indoors... but we are trying to do some outdoor activities.”

Hayden said this would typically be the busiest time of the year for her programs. She said multiple student field trips were canceled as districts throughout the region close schools to stop the spread of the virus. Outdoor programs where participants would gather together are also canceled. She said moving the programs online is important to keep kids engaged as many families shelter in their homes.

“Helping these parents have something to do with all that pent-up energy, still making it fun and educational, I think is important,” Hayden said. “As long as we are being asked to social distance, I think we’ll continue [offering online programs].”

You can view online educational programs and activities from Hayden and the Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge at their Facebook page.