Thanks to our BEN Bulletin sponsor:
The Bird Education Network (BEN) was created following the February 2007 National Gathering, hosted by the Council for Environmental Education (CEE). BEN is a CEE initiative that seeks to connect and support a community of bird education professionals.
Over 3,000 individuals representing 300 organizations receive communications and engage in professional dialogue through the BEN-run Bird Education Listserv.
A BEN Committee has been established to provide advice and guidance for this important initiative, to advance "bird conservation through education."
Essentials for Reaching Diverse Audiences through Birds Part VI: Ongoing Support
by Paul J. Baicich
|Mary Deinlein, from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, with a group of girls from Brent Elementary School in Washington, D.C. - photo by: Paul Baicich |
Here we cover the last of our five essential ingredients for reaching diverse audiences, Ongoing Support. As a reminder, here are all five:
The last element of ongoing support could embrace individual parts, of many sizes and shapes. These might include funding, institutional organization, meeting places, incorporation into routine practice, and facilitation. Ongoing support here may mean something as simple as a ride for a refuge field trip, as basic as providing binoculars and field guides that might not be otherwise affordable, or as daunting as core funding for an ongoing summer birding summer camp for city youth.
Ongoing support may require a connection to a bird class, a nature center, a zoo, a museum, a friends' group, a birding class, a summer camp, a nature/birding festival, or all of these!
In fact, without ongoing support, previous accomplishments will wither.
Basically, bird educators cannot maximize the elements of our previously outlined ingredients - opening opportunities, repeated field trips, the engagement of skilled mentors, and sustaining the camaraderie of like-minded and congenial colleagues - unless there is the final component of meaningful ongoing support.
Among these parts of ongoing support, funding is probably the most essential. Therefore, it needs special emphasis here.
Nothing can be more discouraging that starting a project that engages communities of diversity than having it crippled due to lack of funding. It may be discouraging for the organizers, but it can be totally demoralizing for the intended participants. This means that all the elements of funding need to be considered ahead of time, with alternatives and contingencies taken into account.
Downsizing a program that has started is one thing; scrapping it altogether is quite another.
So, planning ahead is the foundation for the element of ongoing support.
In our next BEN Bulletin, we will conclude our seven-part our series on reaching diverse audiences through birds, with some lessons and next steps.
Can A Resurgence in Environmental Education be Sustained?
As we are all aware, the best environmental education uses the outdoors as a tool for practical hands-on learning. Teachers, for example, might ask students to collect and assess data on the water quality of a nearby stream or ask them to count the birds and bird species along that streamside. In fact, studies show that environmental education can actually improve student achievement and test scores, particularly in math, science, and other core subjects, help students think more effectively, and provide a real-world context for classroom instruction.
In line with that trend, our colleagues promoting the "No Child Left Inside Act" have highlighted a number of interesting developments in environmental education, including the following:
� More than forty states are taking action to urge the development of statewide "environmental literacy" plans, and outdoor plans and strategies.
� The number of high school students taking the Advanced Placement Environmental Science course jumped 426 percent in the past 10 years compared to an average increase of 97 percent for all AP subject exams over the same period.
� At least 200 green charters schools have opened across the country in recent years using a research-based curriculum called EIC, or Environment as an Integrating Context for learning. The idea involves using nature and the environment as a teaching tool for everything from math to reading to history.
� Between 1995 and 2005 all 50 states expanded and strengthened their environmental education programs by 80 percent, measured by the number of key components implemented: dedicated funding, professional development, comprehensive EE plan, etc.
� Nearly 2,000 schools have joined the national Green School Alliance. Green schools are designed or retrofitted to consume less energy, to reduce waste, and to connect environmental education curriculum to a school's sustainable features.
All this is healthy for bird educators and others interested in environmental education.
However, schools are hard pressed for resources to implement these promising developments, a challenge that could be addressed by legislation introduced in Congress: The No Child Left Inside Act. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced the bi-partisan legislation in mid-July.
For more details on maximizing the ongoing growth of environmental education and securing a solid future for the trend, see the NCLI efforts here: www.nclicoalition.org/.
Diversity Conference Early Bird Registration
On October 22nd, the Focus on Diversity: Changing the Face of American Birding Conference at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia, PA will bring together dedicated bird educators from the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Region. Participants will leave the conference with resources and action plans to make an immediate difference in their own areas. Early Bird discount is available through the end of August.
Registration materials are available online by clicking here.