As our name indicates, conservation is a big part of what we hope to accomplish through Whitehawk. It was one of the main reasons that we formed Whitehawk Birdwatching and Conservation to begin with! After years of working as biologists in various corners of the globe, we have come to believe that environmental education, community support and capacity building are some of the most important components of successful, long-term conservation efforts. With this in mind, we are so proud to announce that in February of this year, we began our pilot education program. “Whitehawk Junior Naturalist Program: Where Nature Meets Learning” took flight with three first grade classes from Balboa Academy in Panama.
Over the course of two weeks, we made three visits which each class. During the first in-classroom visit we conducted a pre-evaluation slide show quiz. This was followed by interactive activities in which we used costumes/dress up to teach children about bird characteristics. The students practiced mimicking bird calls and movements. They also tried out “bird watching” in the classroom by spotting bird puppets hidden in the room.
Field Trip to Metropolitan Natural Park
The following week, we took the students on a half day field trip to Metropolitan Natural Park. We hiked a nature trail looking for insects, birds, and mammals. We also studied aquatic ecosystems at a small pond within the park. In a shelter, we played a number of outdoor games including “Nature Detectives” in which students used their senses to guess a mystery object hidden in a bag; “Owl and Mouse” – a game of tag where a blindfolded “owl” uses its hearing to catch “mice”; and an art activity where students drew the forest from a “bird’s eye view.”
The Whitehawk Junior Naturalist program concluded with a visit to the school with a live, non-releasable bird, and the passing out of certificates. We reached over 50 first graders and hope to expand the project to other grades and schools to provide children with an opportunity to not only learn about wildlife and nature, but to love and hopefully protect them, as well.