The Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) at Cheyenne Bottoms has recently been the recipient of two gifts. The first gift is the result of a cash donation from the Donald Haines memorial. With the donation, the family requested that the funds be used to purchase two pole art banners to be hung in the parking lot area of the KWEC. The pole art banners are custom made by an artist from Hoisington, Bruce Bitter of B&B Metal Arts. Similar metal banners (62 in all) with nature scenes line Hoisington’s main street.

With input from the Haines family, and KWEC staff, Bitter designed two scenes. One banner shows three blue-winged teal in flight with a waterfowl hunter and dog in the background. The other banner is of a great blue heron in flight with a fisherman in the background. The banners were installed on poles lining the driveway leading into the KWEC from K-156 Highway. The banners are an attraction by themselves, and are an interesting extension of the Koch Wetlands Exhibit gallery and the Wetlands Gift Store, which sells other metal art pieces by Bruce Bitter. Donald Haines and his wife Dorma (currently of Cripple Creek, Colo.), lived in Great Bend, for 31 years and spent many hours at Cheyenne Bottoms. Donald was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed hunting and fishing at the wetland, which was the basis of the design of the two banners in his memory. Donald was a lineman and head serviceman for the Power Company for 35 years and retired in 2000. He passed away in May 2009. Donald and Dorma have three children: Denise, Diane, Donald, and seven grandchildren.

A second recent gift to the KWEC also is the result of a memorial fund. The Margaret L. Parham Taggart Memorial Fund was established in 1988 in conjunction with the Wildtrust program. With the fund, Kansas artist, Wes Dewey, donated an original piece of artwork, titled “Future Flight,” from which prints were made. The painting shows two Canada geese with six young geese emerging from a goose nest box structure.  Proceeds from the original sale of the prints went toward conservation efforts at Cheyenne Bottoms. Later, the family decided that when a visitors’ center was built at Cheyenne Bottoms, the original painting and remaining prints would be housed and sold there. Currently the original painting is on display in the KWEC auditorium, and prints of the painting are for sale in the Wetlands Gift Store with proceeds going toward education programs at the KWEC. Along with the painting and prints, a cash donation was made to the KWEC from the memorial fund. The painting adds another visual piece of the storied history of Cheyenne Bottoms to the KWEC’s growing exhibits. 

Margaret Parham Taggart grew up in Bucklin. After graduating from Wichita State University, she married Dick Taggart and moved to Hays in 1948. She was very active in youth groups, church, and Eastern Star. She was a district representative for Girl Scouts and worked as a clerk for several physicians. She passed away in July 1986. Parham Taggart has four children: Tom, Bruce, Connie, Phyllis, eight grandchildren, and 19 greatgrandchildren.