As many area students and teachers are discovering, field-trips offer unique and exciting learning experiences for everyone. Since the opening of the new lodge and visitor center, Magazine Mountain has become one of the most popular visiting places for area schools and students.
The park offers overlooks, hiking trails, a picnic area with restrooms, and pavilion, and visitor center with an interactive exhibit gallery and gift shop. The visitor center contains an interactive exhibit gallery featuring wildlife ranging from black bear to the Diana butterfly.
Mount Magazine State Park, the University of the Ozarks and the Guy Fenter Education Service center have developed a unique partnership that allows students and teachers to visit the park on field trips, enjoy the outdoors, and exercise while still picking up the science, history, and even math that they would learn in the traditional classroom.
Park interpreter Jonathan Wirges and Don Simons lead a variety of programs that highlight the mountain’s natural diversity and unique species, the most popular being the presentation on the black bear.
Simons has videoed many of the bear that visit the park and his most popular video consist of the bear dancing with a tree while accompanied by contemporary music. In addition, Wirges accompanies groups on high point trail and provides historical and historical information to the students.
Dr. Bret Stone of the University of the Ozarks often accompanies the group along with Dr. Curtis Varnell of GFESC. Students are provided instrumentation that measures their distance walked while measuring heart rate, calorie loss, and body temperature while Varnell provides the history and science discovered along the two-mile hike on the west end of the mountain.
Students visit seldom seen sites such as the bottomless pit, the palisades, and buffalo jump. Many climb into and out of bear cave, the site where Friedrich Morsbach killed two bear during the pioneer period.
Recently, two groups of migrant students visited the site. Nearly 100 students experienced the joys of the Arkansas outdoors and visiting the natural state for the first time.
This fall, students from Clarksville, Paris, Magazine, Booneville, Mansfield, Danville, Cedarville, Van Buren and County Line have enjoyed a day on the mountain. Each spring, Paris eighth grade spend three days visiting the mountain top while learning everything from literacy to math using a field guide developed by June Gilbreath of Paris. That field-guide has been presented at teacher workshops in New Orleans, Kansas City, and New Jersey and is used as a model nationally.
At the end of each day of field-trips, an excited but tired group of students trudge back on the bus much more knowledgeable about the history, culture, and science of the natural state.