PLEASE NOTE: Regular school programs at Wetlands Edge Environmental Center only serve school groups from Decatur City Schools, except for occasional public offerings. The availability of IVXP's Wildlife Habitat for use by the public is subject to the current alert level desginated by America's Office of Homeland Security. Please refer to the REGULATIONS section below for additional information. Information regarding the hours the trails can be used is posted at the trailheads.
Thank you for your interest in WETLANDS EDGE ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER (WEEC). This guide provides basic information concerning the use of WEEC, including regulations and restrictions, program options, preplanning, and scheduling. Undoubtedly, there are other questions not covered here that the visitor may wish answered. If so, WEEC staff members will be available to provide further information upon request. You may call the Center between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. 256-301-1559.
WEEC is the culmination of a partnership between IVXP (formerly bp) and Decatur City Schools (DCS) to offer DCS students, students from other public school systems, IVXP employees and their families, and the public a chance to learn about nature "up close and personal." Located on 500+ acres of IVXP's award winning Certified Wildlife Habitat, WEEC offers students and teachers the opportunity to experience the joy and excitement of studying environmental-based concepts across the K-12 curriculum in a nontraditional setting using the outdoors as the classroom. The property contains several different habitats including a wetland swamp, a marsh, a pond, grasslands, bottomland hardwoods, upland species, a young stand of pines, and an oak grove climax community all of which enhance the study of biodiversity. More than two miles of trails traverse the property, and along the way visitors will find benches, picnic tables, and interpretive markers. Inside the Center are two classroom labs, a computer room, and more than 30 living habitats including two floor touch tanks, one marine, and the other freshwater. Most of the exhibits contain flora and fauna native to North Alabama and to the entire state of Alabama.
School programs at WEEC are only available to teachers and students in Decatur City Schools with the exception of a couple of special activities designed for a larger audience. The Center is not open to the general public except during special advertised activities. The Wildlife Habitat trails, which are IVXP property, are open to the public subject to the current alert level designated by the US Office of Homeland Security.
WEEC is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM- 4:00 PM. Regular field trips are scheduled from 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM. Tuesday through Friday. A full credit high school class in Environmental Field Studies meets daily beginning at 2:00 PM with other times scheduled for special activities.
Please call the center to discuss group size as large groups cannot be easily accommodated. Adequate adult supervision and group discipline is the responsibility of the teacher and accompanying chaperones and is to be maintained throughout the visit. Parents who would be required to bring preschool children should not be asked to chaperone. All rules in the Decatur City Schools' Code of Conduct are in effect. All out-of-district public school students are also subject to their system's code of conduct.
The requested adult-to-child ratios for group visitation are as follows:
K - 2 = 1 : 5 3 - 5 = 1 : 8 6 - 8 = 1 : 15 9 - 12 = 1 : 25
Prior to visiting WEEC, teachers are asked to familiarize themselves and their students with the activity plans and preplanning suggestions if provided for their field trip. Teachers bringing students needing special accommodations are asked to notify WEEC staff members prior to their scheduled field trip so that appropriate preparations may be made. Teachers must also bring any necessary emergency/medical information on the field trip.
All visitors to WEEC and the Wildlife Habitat are expected to practice good stewardship of the environment: Mistreatment of the center and/or the Wildlife Habitat in any way is strictly prohibited. Collecting plants and animals from the habitat is generally prohibited. If a class activity warrants collecting it can only take place under the supervision of WEEC staff members.
HOW TO REQUEST A SCHOOL FIELD TRIP
Complete instructions for using the online interactive application may be found by following the appropriate links on the Request a Field Trip web page within this website
Teachers are asked to observe the following planning suggestions prior to their visit. Additional information will be sent in advance of the field trip once reservations are confirmed.
• Familiarize one's self with the Visitors' Guide and all Field Trip Preparation Materials.
- For each student in your class, send home the Parent and Teacher Info Sheets, the school permission slip (DCS students only), and the IVXP liability release form to be signed by parents/guardians.
- To ensure student safety, please try to secure the minimum number of chaperones required. (See ratios in REGS Section.)
- Please notify WEEC staff in advance of your field trip if you have any students who require special accommodations so that appropriate preparations may be made.
- Advise all participants as to appropriate dress. Casual clothing (in general: long pants, heavy socks, comfortable walking shoes) is recommended. During the hotter months shorts may be acceptable depending on the activity. Insect repellent is advisable during certain seasons!
- Prepare a roster and name tags (printed 1" letters readable from a distance) for all students, teachers, and chaperones.
• Outline and discuss basic rules of behavior for the field trip.