Fort Hays State University-Kansas Wetlands Education Center
592 NE K156 Highway, Great Bend, KS
The KWEC is a branch of Fort Hays State University’s Werth College of Science, Technology, and Mathematics located at Cheyenne Bottoms (10 miles NE of Great Bend, KS) and opened in April 2009. The mission of the KWEC is to educate the public about wetland communities, their importance and the need for conservation and restoration. The KWEC facility contains 11,246 square feet of floor space, including the Koch Wetlands Exhibit gallery, the Duane Shook Auditorium, a classroom, a gift store, and office spaces for staff, volunteers, and graduate students. KWEC averages approximately 25,000 total contacts annually, including drop-in visitors, onsite program participants, and outreach program participants. KWEC Educators conduct more than 700 total programs annually. Admission is free. Viewing areas overlook a mitigation marsh, and a nature trail extends through a nearby wooded area. The building is located about 70 miles southeast of Hays, KS, along K-156 Highway, near the city of Great Bend in central Kansas. It overlooks Cheyenne Bottoms, the largest wetland in the interior of the United States, including: 19,857 acres known as the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks and 7,706 acres known as the Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy. Another large wetland area, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (21,820 acres), is located about 40 miles south of the KWEC and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.