Year 1: 2015-2016 Austwell-Tivoli ISD
We began the kids birding program in the fall of 2015 at Austwell-Tivoli ISD. Principal Stephen Maldonado embraced our proposal with enthusiasm and delight. The intent was to get the future generation out into their local environment, open their eyes to the amazing natural resources of the San Antonio Guadalupe Estuary through the activity of birding, and hopefully come to cherish and protect it.
Our mentor, Mrs Martha McLeod, Science Lab Teacher at Fulton Learning Center graciously and with “no holds barred” explained to us the model of her award winning program. With that information and a ton of ideas, we launched our program by taking the ATISD 4th and 5th graders to “Camp HummerBird” at the Rockport HummerBird Celebration (HBC) in September 2015. There, the students were stunned by the tiny fairy like birds being banded by experts. Some lucky students experienced the thrill of releasing a hummingbird from their hand.
The students were taught binocular skills and an introduction to
backyard birds by Dr. Byron Stone, president of the Texas Ornithological Society. Being guided by a few of Mrs McLeod’s student birding team members they practiced their new skills at Rockport Beach spotting shorebirds. Returning to the festival grounds, the students wandered through outdoor exhibits including the Welder Wildlife Foundation’s touch and talk exhibit, Texas A&MU’s Wetland on Wheels with Dr Jay Trakington, Texas Master Naturalist Mid-Coast Chapter’s Butterfly tent.
To see the complete album of pictures from the 2015 ATISD Camp Hummerbird click here.
Following the HBC, we discussed the structure of the ongoing birding program and refined it, as requested by the school, to help them meet the requirement for providing extra challenging learning opportunities to the students whose test scores indicated them to be “gifted and talented”.
Program Purpose: To develop knowledge, enthusiasm & appreciation of the natural resources in our local environment.
- Engage kids in the outdoor activity of birding (bird watching).
- Provide structured learning experiences for basic bird identification, bird behavior, birds roles in the environment & contribution to the human experience.
- Develop camaraderie, teamwork and social skills.
Year End Goal: Compete in the Texas Park’s & Wildlife’s Great Texas Birding Classic April 2016.
Texas Master Naturalist, Mid-Coast Chapter to provide program structure and coordination, educational content and resources, coordinate field trips, classroom learning experiences and volunteer assistants.
San Antonio Bay Partnership to provide guidance, community contacts, funding and supplies (binoculars, field guides, learning materials)
Community School to provide program guidance, student access, parental permission, adult/teacher supervision, classroom space, student transportation, student sack lunch for field trips when applicable.
2015-2016 Program Outline
- Participants: Gifted and talented students 3th – 8th grades & GT Teacher
- Once monthly 60 minute birding classes provided by program coordinator or guest speaker.
- Once monthly day long field trips to regional birding hot spots.
- Each student will receive a National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America to keep for the promotion of lifelong birding.