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Texas Parks and Wildlife goes birding with local schools!

2016 February 29
by Laura Pineda-Bermudez
Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department put on a wonderful program that reached out to two schools in the El Paso area. A total of 77 participants from Americas High school and their feeder school, Vista Del Sol were involved in the very first “Celebrate Urban Birds!” event. The students arrived to Franklin Mountains State Park and spent the morning learning how to use the binoculars to identify birds, hiking, identifying bird calls, learning bird anatomy, and discussing the importance of citizen science!

Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

Each high schooler was paired with a younger “buddy” for the day from the elementary school and served as a mentor. The high schoolers guided their buddies through a fun, hands-on activity that allowed the students to get creative back at the high school. They each received a planter to decorate and seeds to plant that would serve as food sources for birds and butterflies. The idea behind the activity was to teach about the importance of creating “green spaces” to provide habitats for birds and other wildlife in urban environments. The busy day ended with data collection as part of a citizen science activity, where students tallied the number of birds observed within a given area during a set time period.

Both the mentors and their buddies went home happy at the end of the day! One of the teachers, Neysa Hardin commented on the success of the event:

Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

“Thank you to Cesar, Adrianna, and John at Franklin Mountains State Park. The students had an incredible day! My high school students said that this was one of their best experiences ever. Not only did they learn about our local urban birds, but they also enjoyed being mentors for the day! The elementary students told their librarian that they can’t wait to visit the park again with their high school buddies. We look forward to partnering up again! Thank you a million times for this unique experience.”

Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

Courtesy of Adrianna Weickhardt

This tremendous event has had a great impact on both the participants and the surrounding community. Through this event, the students have been able to gain awareness and appreciation for birds and nature in their very own backyard. The high school students stepped up to their roles as mentors and really made an effort to be engaged and supportive throughout the activities. The relationships strengthened between the schools and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have also been incredible! By holding activities in both the high school and state park, a bridge between the “wild” and the “urban” was formed, making connections between both habitats.

A huge thank you to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for putting on a magnificent event!!

Time is running out to apply for our mini-grants!

2015 December 11
by Michelle Santillan

Do you hear what I hear? The holidays are coming, and with that, the presents, the hot cocoa, and children playing in the snow (and if you don’t have snow, children playing in general). Soon, the countdown for the New Year will begin, but before it starts, remember to apply for a mini-grant!

Sometimes the best gifts are helping others and spending time with them, so why not get some help to do just that? Celebrate Urban Birds is offering monetary grants ranging from $100 to $750 dollars to help anyone who wants to plan a fun activity to help people learn about birds and the environment. No previous experience is necessary, and we have the resources to help you out along the way! Furthermore, your event will be featured on our website to inspire others to learn about birds with their communities. All you have to do is think of an outdoor community event that incorporates the arts and focuses on learning about focal birds and greening or habitat creation. Besides this, a 10-minute observation and data collection of the focal bird species is required, which is simple and makes for an exciting activity to do at your event.

 

If you want some inspiration about what activities you can do, check out our Events page and our past mini-grant winners! More information about our mini-grants can be found here. If you have any questions, visit our FAQ or send us an e-mail at urbanbirds@cornell.edu. The last day to apply for a mini-grant is December 31, 2015, so make it your new year’s resolution to do an event that will leave a lasting impression on others!

Lifeworks Services, Inc. and Minnesota Veterans’ Home go birding!

2015 December 2
by Laura Pineda-Bermudez

Lifeworks Services, Inc., a non-profit that works alongside adults with disabilities, was one of our 2015 mini-grant winners. This year, they partnered with Minnesota Veterans Home. and did some really cool activities!

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

Once a week, between May and August, a birding event took place on the property owned by the veterans’ home. The 128 acre span of land has nature trails, a biking path, an outdoor pavilion, a garden, and a screened porch, which was perfect to get the residents outdoors.

The weekly birding events were led by birding mentor Kevin Smith. A beautiful mosaic was also designed and placed in the newly created Edible Native Garden. The mosaic is a favorite art medium for the Lifeworks clients since it fosters collaboration and allows people of all skill levels to participate!

A Lifeworks representative commented on the impact of this event on the surrounding area:
“After the presentation you could truly feel the good energy coming from the garden. I think it will be a blessing not just to the environment and the birds, but the people living there as well.”

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

The wonderful energy that is felt coming from the garden really reflects the wonderful relationships built between the two organizations this summer. This union between Lifeworks and the Minnesota Veterans Home tremendously impacted the lives of all of the participants. Teaching people with developmental disabilities and mental or physical illness has allowed these adults to find a life-long hobby. This offers them an opportunity to become an expert at something and interact and give back to the natural community around them.

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

To read the full story about the event, please visit our webpage here.
For more information about Lifeworks, click here.