For 33 lucky educators, a two-day workshop held on St. George’s University True Blue Campus felt more like fun and games instead of actual work. SGU’s Education Conservation Outreach (ECO) recently held a BirdSleuth Workshop in collaboration with Grenada Fund for Conservation Inc. and YWF Kido Foundation for a group of teachers from school districts throughout Grenada.
During the in-class activities, attendees were trained in the use of curricula incorporating bird identification skills with inquiry-based learning centered on the theme, Engaging Youth in Science and Conservation through Caribbean BirdSleuth. However, it was the outdoor or citizen science activities such as bird monitoring that brought out the enthusiastic responses from these teachers. The field trips to Woburn Mangrove Restoration Site and Rex Grenadian Hotel, two of the most well known bird watching hotpots in Grenada, seemed to be the highlight of their day.
Carisha Thomas, BirdSleuth Coordinator for ECO said, “BirdSleuth is all about getting out there. It’s not about sitting in the classroom – it’s about actually doing while you’re learning. Working with teachers to develop hands on learning activities for their students is the main focus of this workshop. We don’t want teachers to rely solely on a chalkboard method approach of teaching. We want the kids to have an opportunity to engage and learn about the environment while actually going through it and observing first hand. Teachers know that this is one of the best ways to encourage learning.”
The training was part of a project by Birds Caribbean and funded by United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Fund. The project’s aim is to increase active engagement and commitment to conservation of high-priority migratory birds.
The teachers demonstrated lessons using materials and tools from the workshop, creating and presenting draft project plans for use in their school districts. With the goal of increasing awareness on the plight of migratory birds and their habitats and promoting student environmental stewardship, attendees will form a network of conservation educators. Throughout the next year, these teachers are expected to train 35 students each within their schools and community groups, many of whom expressed their excitement and eagerness to get back to their schools and share all that they had learned with their students.
“Its all about teaching the kids about birds and their habitats and not just learning, but appreciating and getting more involved in their environment,” said Ms. Thomas. She hopes that by the end of these sessions, they will be able to inspire young people to connect to local habitats, explore biodiversity, and one day base their careers in the field of environmental conservation.
By Ray-Donna Peters