The AAS education committee met at the Cornerstone Learning Community on September 16th to discuss goals for the year. Attending were committee co-chairs Dawn Saucier and Elizabeth Platt, Matt Morris, Karen Wensing, Judy Goldman, and Gail Menk. We decided on two main goals: to promote learning about birds and nature in the classroom through use of the Audubon Adventure kits and on-site visits by AAS members, and to support hands-on activities in the out-of-doors. We also agreed to contribute information to the education page of the AAS website. The following reports illustrate how the committee’s goals are being carried out at various area schools.
|New approaches to teaching ornithology|
On May 12 Elizabeth Platt hosted a meeting of some Leon County grade school teachers and yours truly, purpose of which was to promote ways and means of nature studies in local schools. Those attending discussed various ongoing projects and activities and also discussed time/cost effective suggestions on how to supplement appropriate teaching methods and approaches.
As a volunteer avian consultant, I proposed that I promote one-on-one bird outings with teachers at sites in Leon County in order not only to acquaint teachers with identification of bird species but also to stress awareness of the natural world in general, i.e. plant life, habitat, seasonal change as well as other related matters.
To jump-start such outings, on June 5 I accompanied Julie McBride on a bird walk near her residence on Mill Branch Road where we listed 16 bird species and discussed various plant life (How nicely were blackberry and elderberry bushes doing this time round!). Included on our bird list was a foraging juvenile Wood Stork which joined us surprisingly on a stretch of mowed lawn; during daytime this species typically confines itself to mud flats where it feasts on fish and other aquatic animal life. An unseen calling Limpkin suggested further extension of its summer range in the county and several other bird species were in good voice - Yellow-billed Cuckoo, White-eyed Vireo, Fish Crow and others. Julie's neighborhood is indeed an ideal "resource laboratory" for natural learning experiences.
Later we visited nearby Gilchrist Elementary School where Julie envisions additional plants and trees including flowering butterfly gardens and the like. A retention pond with flowering pickerel week provides there a good source of water. A Red-shouldered Hawk and friendly vocal House Finches and two or three Great Crested Flycatchers were on hand to greet us.
I look forward to future birding and nature walks at Mill Branch Road and Gilchrist and greatly appreciate Julie's cordiality on June 5.
Gail E. Menk, Tallahassee
Audubon Advertures Kit is prepared by the National Audubon Society.
The kit si
provided to teachers, without charge, through cooperation with the
Audubon Society. Audubon Adventures is a convient, reliable, and
accurate way for you to present information on nature to your
students. The material is presented in a manner that quickly
captures their interest and promotes retention. Details on the four topics to be
presented in this years kits is available on the edication segment of the National Audubon Website.|
To enrole in the program you may contact Judy Goldman at (850)-385-5222
Audubon Adventures Kit History
2009 Birdathon Revenue for
Audubon Adventure Kits
and other projects
|In addition to the Audubon Adventures Kit program Apalchee Audubon can
provide you with guest |
instructures on bird topics as well as support you with guides and bird watching equipment on
field trips near your school. You may contact Dawn Saucier at (850) 656-4045 to arrange for these free services.
|School of Arts and Sciences photo presentation and field trip|
Responding to a call from the School of Arts and Sciences for a presentation about Wakulla Springs, the limpkin, and other springs species, Marvin Collins and Elizabeth Platt spoke with four groups of grades K-1 and 2-3 students on September 25th. The photo presentation was highly interactive and the presenters were very much impressed at how observant and knowledgeable the children were. Two weeks after the presentations the children went to Wakulla Springs with their teachers to learn more. Few groups of youngsters could have been as well prepared!
Magnolia School basic bird-watching lecture and field trip
Education Committee co-chair Dawn Saucier visited Magnolia School on September 17th to present a program on bird-watching basics to a group of about 32 students in grades K-5. As a follow-up, AAS volunteer Lynn Reynolds led a bird walk for the students on their recent school field trip to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The students first participated in orienteering activities at Plum Orchard Pond, then enjoyed lunch at the picnic area where they were treated to the sight of a bald eagle soaring overhead. In the afternoon, classes were divided into small groups for nature hikes around Tower Pond. Students kept notes in their science journals about species seen, then used field guides to help identify birds such as the Downy Woodpecker and Common Yellowthroat.
|Birding at Cornerstone and Field Trip to Birdsong|
By Gail E. Menk
On Thursday October 1 I birded briefly at Tallahassee's
Community and listed a Gray Catbird and a Red-eyed Vireo (likely migrants) prior
to accompanying as invited guest a bus load of CLC 4th-graders to Birdsong
Nature Center in Grady County, Georgia, where said students undertook field
activities under the tutelage of naturalist Matt Morris. It was nice to touch
shoulders once more with Birdsong's Kathleen Brady who informed me that,
interestingly, the Gray Catbird had yet to be listed there as a nesting species
despite its southward spread as year-round resident into North Florida as of