Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Young and Older

Yesterday, the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest hosted the Leopold Education Project (LEP) workshop. While enjoying gorgeous weather, participants learned about Aldo Leopold and his concept of land ethics. Leopold wrote, "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. There is no other way for land to survive the impact of mechanized man, nor for us to reap from it the esthetic harvest it is capable, under science, of contributing to culture." Leopold's book A Sand County Almanac begins, "There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot."

The old-growth, cypress-tupelo swamp at Beidler Forest provided plethora of wild things as the workshop participants mastered the basics of Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation through the upland forest and experienced several of the curriculum's activities along the 1.75-mile boardwalk. The LEP curriculum will be incorporated into the education program at Beidler Forest.

Today, a much younger crowd was awed by the ancient cypress swamp (and Gray Squirrels) as kindergarteners from Ridge Christian School toured the boardwalk. After lunch (which is a critical portion of the agenda known by all no matter the group's age), the students experienced the difficulty of locating the song or call or a bird within their "species." Each student had a toy bird hidden in a paper bag with only one of the other birds in the class being of the same species. Each student gave their bird a squeeze to activate the song or call, learned their own sound and then set off to recognize their song or call in another of the hidden birds. Although all of the kindergarteners were not successful in finding their same species, the mismatched pairs were all the same (Bird A with Bird B and Bird B with Bird A and not with Bird C or D).

Tomorrow, we visit the 5th graders at Eagle Nest Elementary. Budget cuts have caused school districts to cancel field trips, so we're taking the swamp to the schools, even though the old-growth and the best season of the year can only be appreciated at Beidler Forest.

Image by Mark Musselman

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