EPA Video makes case for Protecting Urban Wetlands for experiencing Nature (December 2008)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has produced a 12- minute video, “Wetlands and Wonder: Reconnecting Children with Nearby Nature,” that makes a passionate case for protecting urban wetlands as places to experience nature. The film focuses on urban and suburban wetlands as valuable resources to be restored, protected and enjoyed. Pockets of remaining wetlands in developed areas often provide immediate and easy access to nature. Yet these wetlands may be threatened or degraded, and often go unnoticed. The video was produced by Darcy Campbell of EPA, Gene Reetz, a former EPA wetlands expert, and Colorado-based ECOS Communications. The video features interviews with Julia McCarthy, Joan Almon, Richard Louv, and Robert Michael Pyle.
For additional copies of the DVD, contact the National Service Center for Environmental Publications at 800-490-9198 or visit http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/education/wetlandsvideo/ to view the video online.
The Fledging Birders program encourages you to take your students birding! (April 2009)
Start their morning (and yours!) off on the right track with a refreshing bird walk around the campus. Or, help them unwind after a busy day by birding after school. Either way, the Schoolyard Birding Challenge (www.fledgingbirders.org/challenge.html) can help promote excitement for your bird outings through a bit of friendly competition for schools nationwide. It's totally FREE and you can win prizes for your class!
~ Kim Check
New Bird Game- the Conspiracy of Ravens (July 2009)
Are there any bird education programs that focus on Children (July 2009)
The Flying WILD program, www.flyingwild.org, is just such a program--bird education as a vehicle for involving youth in environmental learning and stewardship. In addition to numerous activities about bird conservation, habitat, biology, cultural connections and stewardship, many formal and nonformal educators involved in Flying WILD work with students to conduct educational bird festivals. To learn about upcoming Flying WILD educator and facilitator (trainer) workshops, you will want to contact the Flying WILD City Partners in those areas. ~ Marc LeFebre
Join your local Audubon group. Each chapter has an education committee where you could volunteer. We started a Junior Audubon program this year for young children. It has gone great. There are lots of resources on the internet. I've had Flying Wild training and I use some of the activities. birdday.org has Jr. Birder activity booklets for different age groups. www.audubon.org has education resources including Audubon Adventures for students 3 - 6th grade. There is also a list of chapters in each state on that web page, so you can find a group close by. ~
Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society
Also see -
Where can find educational/information posters that relate to the concept of biodiversity that was put forward by Douglas Talamy in "Bringing Nature Home" (August 2009)
Check out the posters at Good Nature Publishing http://www.goodnaturepublishing.com. They have many beautiful posters that focus on such topics as backyard habitats/rain gardens, hedgerows and low impact living. They are currently working one called "Love Your Stream" with a focus on promoting clean water practices in your backyard which should be ready for distribution in about a month.
Woodland Park Zoo
Download Audubon At Home posters:
Healthy Yard: http://www.audubonathome.org/yard
Healthy Apartment: http://www.audubonathome.org/apartment/index.html
Healthy Country Home: http://www.audubonathome.org/countryhome/index.html
Healthy Schoolyard: http://www.audubonathome.org/schoolyard/index.html
Healthy Neighborhood: http://www.audubonathome.org/neighborhood/index.html
Christmas Bird Count for Kids (October 2009)
Every year for over a century “Christmas Bird Counts” (CBC's) have been run across America during the holiday season. Young kids with their families are often not included with this important 24 hour rigorous “citizen science” effort...so we created the Audubon CBC for Kids... and families...using some of the important basic ingredients of this grand old tradition. The objective is to have fun and potentially create a “farm team” of birders and conservationists for the future of birding and encourage families to enjoy nature together. It only takes 2 teams to get started! It is a wonderfully simple, healthy, holiday celebration for almost any school, youth group, Audubon chapter, nature center, wildlife refuge or local community organization. Click here for more information.
Bird games for festivals (March 2010)
I thought folks might be interested in a game I developed for use at festivals and such. I put this together last year and used it a couple of different events -- it was very successful! I wanted something related to bird education in which kids of all ages could participate. It does not require reading, so can be used with children as young as 3, all the way up to adults. I also wanted something that could accommodate many kids -- at an event like Earth Day we might get several hundred kids through the booth! This activity is great for an indoor or outdoor space, a small space or a large one. Even people that are not going to play will stop and just look at the pictures -- and possibly ask questions or talk about birds -- which is an added bonus! The basic premise is that the participant studies a close up picture of a bird (and of course I featured Louisiana birds) and then tries to pick that bird out of a lineup of 3 birds that have very similar characteristics. In a larger space, this can be done with binoculars or scopes so that it approximates bird identification in real life -- looking at bird in the distance and then figuring out which bird that is in a field guide. Participants are coached, so no one walks away a loser, and prizes are given to all participants. If interested in the file email - email@example.com. ~ Jane Patterson, Baton Rouge Audubon Society.
- I too have an activity similar to this but I use a simple identification sheet which has 15 pictures or so of the birds (front and back) on it for the person to find the match - like you said, this works especially well when you are working with young children and those who can't read. I laminate the bird id sheet and use clipboards to hold the sheet. One frontside on a clipboard and one backside on a clip board or I let them flip the sheets over. I use bird pictures (laminated bird pictures that I taped onto metal envelope openers which are pushed into the ground) and/or the Audubon plush singing toys as the "bird in the field" that they have to find a match to identify.
For those who can read, I give them a clip board and a field sheet that has questions on it. The questions are specific for each of the bird pictures that I have staked out along a trail or by the booth. The participants look the bird up in a field guide to find the answers. Questions such as where is the winter range of the bird? Does this bird stay year-round in Mississippi? Is this bird larger or smaller than a robin? What family group of birds does the bird pictured belong to? Name another bird that has a tuft of feathers on top of its head? I use this activity for teaching beginners how to identify birds, practice using binoculars, and to get them used to using a field guide. I've used the activity at teacher workshops, for class programs, at nature camps and I will use it this summer for my own youth birding camp. ~
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
If there are Piping Plovers in your area, you might be interested in the PiPl Resource package at delawareaudubon.org A musical composition, featuring the song of the PIPl, can be downloaded. ~ Ann Rydgren, Delaware Audubon
Does anyone do workshops for the boy scout badge?
"While most of the requirements are not a problem, #5 -- "Observe and identify at least 20 species of wild birds" seems like quite a task. I'm trying to find a way to do this workshop as a one-day event and I'm not sure that trying to squeeze in 20 birds is realistic, or a good way for them to learn. The obvious solution is a bird hike, but I'm not sure that would yield 20 birds.
- Better to do a workshop on how to ID birds and then take the scouts out initially, then take them out again a few times over a few weeks to actually see the full 20 birds. You wouldn’t have to be the leader on all the bird walks. Their scout leaders could take them birding if they participated in the training you offered, or the scouts could individually join regular birding groups through Audubon or nature center outings or a local club. They could keep a cumulative check list on all the bird walks to show that they have earned the badge. I don’t think people remember as much if they are taught everything at one time and then don’t practice using their new skill a few times after the initial training. ~ Susan Gilcrest
It's not really difficult.. at almost any season. Visiting a bird feeder, a pond, a woodland, and a grassy field should easily yield the required 20 species. ~ Paul Baicich
-I do two 4 hour classes. Basic agenda for first 2
hours is to cover items 1-5 in a classroom setting. This is done with a powerpoint and an intro to binoculars and field guides and basic bird ID using photographs. Then we go for a bird walk on campus for at least an hour. I provide binoculars and field guides and we use both on the walk. As we walk, we talk about bird songs and I'll ask repeatedly about the songs we hear as we go to reinforce them. Of course, we also discuss habitat and food sources and migration, etc etc.
When we return to the classroom, we discuss the checklist and then have a short bird song quiz. An important note:
because of the short amount of time available, I do not try to tackle Requirement #8 at the same time -- instead we set it as a prerequisite of the class and they have to bring "proof" that they have accomplished one of the tasks in #8 on their own prior to the class. They generally bring pictures of what they've made and I'll ask them a question or two about it.
Some lessons learned from my experiences: 1) Have one scout be the field guide carrier and another be the list keeper. If everyone has binoculars, field guides, a checklist and a pencil, it's too much to hold on to and manage. I also found that if each kid had their own list they were more worried about checking off birds on the list rather than actually looking at birds. Share the list when you return to the classroom so that everyone has one to take with them. 2) This year instead of just writing down the birds we found, I created an illustrated checklist that had a picture of the birds we were most likely to encounter and next to it, a place to check if we saw it, a place to note what it was doing or eating, and a place to note if it's a migrant or yr round resident. I added space at the end for "write-ins". Since the kids are usually not bird watchers, this gives them a way to ID the bird without me having to just tell them what it is. For birds that are not on list, I ask them to tell me everything they see and then we look it up in the field guide. Using an illustrated checklist also gives the kids a "mini field guide" to take home with them. 3) Use technology -- it impressed them! I bought my the iPod Touch last year just so that I'd have the iBird application to use with the scouts. 4) A group of over 6 or 7 scouts is about max I can manage on my own -- they tend to wander and get distracted. Arrange to have 1 adult for every 6 or so kids. ~ Jane Patterson, Baton Rouge Audubon Society
Taking the scouts out to the right place(s) is the key. You want a diversity of habitat types and a place that has different edge habitats (where different habitats meet). Wetland habitats including ponds and streams are great places to find birds. Time of the year (season) will help you determine where to go. And lastly, time of the day is important. For the best bird activity, one has to be out in the morning and then late afternoon into the evening.
With spring migration fixing to start (or has started in the South), you should be able to pick up 20 birds with an early morning hike through some nice birdy habitats. Part of finding the birds in forested habitats though is listening to their calls and songs too.
A merit badge doesn't have to happen all in one day. Our roles as providers of environmental education is to plant the seeds, get them excited to learn, lay the basic ground work by providing the information, teaching how to and leading activities where lessons are learned, skills are developed and practiced. The scouts need to be able to do some of the work on their own too. We don't want to "spoon-feed" nature or their badge requirements to them. I realize that some scout leaders want us to provide everything in one package but we don't have to. Getting them close to meeting the requirements is fine. In the spirit of scouting it is best for the youngsters to do some of the badge work on their own initiative and desire.
~ Terri Jacobson,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service