Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hawk Ridge Education Report

"The mission of the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is to protect birds of prey and other migratory birds in the Western Lake Superior Region through research, education, and stewardship." 

Weekly blog reports on the research part of our mission have been posted, so it's appropriate we also update you with an education report.

To date, we have delivered 26 private, paid education programs.  We have 35 more scheduled, and I'm sure that number will go up.

This includes 17 Hawk Ridge Primers, a 45-60 minute program that gives the basics of 'what is a raptor', why so many fly past Hawk Ridge every year, the history of the Ridge, and the banding and counting research that we do.  We also touch on what happens to that data and some of the findings based on the data.  These primers have mostly been given to college biology or ecology classes, but we also give an age-appropriate version of the primer to many homeschool groups.  With the wide-age range of some homeschool groups, we do our best to make sure that the youngest and oldest walk away with new knowledge of raptors. If available, we also provide an opportunity to see a banded bird.  Note: We are giving our Primer program on weekends for $5 per person, in case you are interested!

The program total also includes nine 'Experience Hawk Ridge' programs, which are given to 5th grade classes.  These classes cover much of the same things as the primers, but they also include some fun activities that keep the students learning and engaged throughout the 90 minute program.  As with the primers, we always hope that we can share some raptor magic and build connections to birds by having a banded raptor to show them.  They learn about the boreal forest, raptor adaptations and clues for identification such as size, shape and behavior.  They learn to use binoculars and often get to try their hand at identifying and counting raptors in flight.  Students then compare their count data to that of the count staff at the platform. It's fun to readily acknowledge the comparison in numbers!

These programs are all designed to create a connection to birds and to inspire interest and learning.  How do we know if we are successful?  Well, evaluations are one way. But, it made my heart glad last week when students hung back to ask me more questions, especially, "How can I get a job like this someday?"  I replied, "Do you have any binoculars?  How about a field guide?  If not, put one on your wish list.  Find people that know about birds and like to watch them.  They can help you." Visit Hawk Ridge! Then, the teacher said, "How about your Grandpa?  He knows about things like this and I'm sure he would love to help you."  It was great watching the students leaving happy and excited. I felt content.

I encourage all the kids and visitors too to learn as much as you can.  Keep coming back to visit Hawk Ridge. You are the future of the bird conservation research & education of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. You are the future of the planet, which includes healthy habitats for birds and all life. 

Gail Johnejack
Education Director

No comments:

Post a Comment