Agencies collaborate for nature display

By: 
Jenny Gessaman
Reporter
Tables clustered in a rectangle are covered with greenery, mounts and animal skins.

Animals, greenery and interactive displays decorate last year’s Nature Display at the 2015 Central Montana Fair.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Shammel

Looking for a curiosity at this year’s Central Montana Fair? It isn’t a freak show, but the second annual Nature Display will feature live fish, animal skins and skulls, all without an admission fee.

Alan Shammel, activities committee chairman for the Fergus County Fairgrounds, described the trade center exhibit as a hands-on chance for Central Montanans young and old to learn about their environment. A different group will staff the booth each day, providing a range of experiences.

Shammel thought the display would be a different event from the rest of the fair, offering adults and children the chance to learn through presentations and activities about the local environment.

“It’s just part of their world,” he said. “I think they need to learn about their world.”

BLM Supervisory Natural Resource Specialist Adam Carr thought the booth was a neat display, too.

“I think it’s just cool for the area to get information on the natural resources and habitat that’s so important to Central Montana,” he said.

Carr also appreciated the ability to talk with fairgoers.

“It’s neat to have the opportunity to interact with the public,” he said.

One of the more popular interactions comes from a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation trunk the BLM brings. While the trunk houses animal furs and skulls, it was the lifelike scat that made a big impression.

“That was kind of a big hit last year,” Carr laughed. “Some of them thought it was real, so it was fun to see their reactions.”

Last year’s reactions helped Shaylene Piedalue decided what to do this year. Based on positive reviews from kids, the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge specialist is once again presenting on the black-footed ferret.

“They’re a vital aspect of the prairie ecosystem,” she said. “They keep the food chain going.”

The endangered species is native to the area, and she said kids are often surprised the smaller ferrets hunt the larger prairie dogs.

Piedalue is traveling from Fort Peck, and will be bringing along Connie Laitinen, CMR park aide. She said Laitinen works at the Fort Peck Interpretive Center, which is co-managed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and young fairgoers always enjoy the displays Laitinen brings about the Corps and water safety.

Piedalue and Laitinen do not mind their long to commute to present at the Nature Display.

“We like to be more noticeable in the community,” Piedalue said. “I think this exhibit we have at the fair is really neat, and we had a good turnout last year.”

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