Audubon Education Resources
The Flathead Valley is a place of abundant beauty and opportunities to experience the wonders of Nature, from Glacier Park to downtown Kalispell. Flathead Audubon’s mission is to help people of all ages make powerful connections to this beautiful place we live in, through learning about birds, nature and conservation.
Because we live in a place where natural beauty is nearly mind-boggling, and our mission is to help conserve that natural beauty and diversity for future generations, our primary focus and objectives are to engage those future generations with the place where they live. As luck would have it, those goals present a great opportunity. If we can teach our young people using local examples, then learning becomes more concrete, less abstract, and much more effective. Place-based education is literally “in your face” and can’t be ignored. It also allows us to enlist millions of fellow “teachers” — the denizens of this natural world that surrounds us.
The most accessible of those teachers are birds. They are everywhere. We can learn about grizzly bears, or elk, or cougars, but most of us will never have personal experience or exposure to them. Not true of birds. Four hundred billion of them, of perhaps 18,000 species, inhabit every square inch of this planet, from the Artic to the Antarctic.
As Auduboners, we just happen to be interested in birds. As educators, we look at Montana state standards in life science, earth and space science, math, engineering, social studies, arts and music — and we say, “Yeah. Birds can teach that!”
So, Flathead Audubon Society has put its meager “money where its mouth is”, and we have developed tools for learning that offer high potential for engagement, motivation, and a love of “knowing”. We also follow the reams of scientific evidence that show students are healthier, happier and (yup!) smarter when they spend significant time outdoors. Full disclosure: our curriculum and other offerings either have outdoor field trips inherent in the unit sequence, or they prepare students for outdoor experiences on their own. Our time, money and energy is spent on education, and ALL of our education offerings are FREE!
- 18 Learning Kits that can be checked out to classrooms for one or two weeks. Some are part of a unit sequence, but all of them can be used separate from the sequence. They offer quality hands-on experiences in the full cross-curricular experiences of S.T.E.A.M., with some history and social studies also in the mix. Check out the annotated list to follow.
- Online Videos and Narrated PowerPoints. Our Flathead Audubon Society YouTube channel gives teachers instant access to Professor Avian Guano, Bir.D., our eccentric, slightly off-the-wall narrator of our Value of Birds trilogy — doing his own brand of “edu-tainment” for middle-school-and-up ages (you won’t realize you have learned something until it’s too late!). The videos feature some gorgeous bird footage gathered by Birds in Motion, a local Montana nonprofit with the goal of video-documenting all of the bird species in North America!
“BIRDS ROCK!” (Video # 1 in the series, 15 minutes) Professor Guano outlines the seven ways that birds are critical to our survival and add joy and wonder to our lives. They are critical for insect and rodent balance, seed dispersal and pollination, first responders in the great cleanup crew, and excellent indicators of the health of our own life support system! They also invented music as we know it, and function as mental health “ecotherapy”. Evidence is convincing that they make us happier!
“BIRD TROUBLE” (Video # 2, 29 minutes) We have not been kind to birds in the past (30% of North American birds are gone since the first Earth Day!), and their future prospects are completely dependent on our own attention to science and evidence, and the changes we make in the next few decades. Their life support system is our life support system. Professor Guano outlines the reasons why they have declined, and makes a strong case for science and evidence as our guide to a better future.
“BIRD HELP” (Video # 3, 28 minutes) The Good Professor shows us how WE, with some minor labors of love, can make a big difference in the future of birds and the future of ourselves — at home! Restoring habitat with native plants, becoming citizen scientists, modifying our windows, keeping our kitties indoors, becoming bird-friendly consumers and perhaps even activists — WILL determine the future of birds, and therefore ourselves. And, most of these simple changes are FUN!
NEW! Available in summer 2022, We will also have “NATIVES RULE” , a video narrated by “Prof. Guano” and featuring local experts on the connections between native plants, native insects who eat those native plants, and native birds who eat those native insects — especially during the time when they are feeding up to 8 or 9 growing chicks! This video should be a great help to your efforts to make your yard and area more bird-friendly!
Our NARRATED POWERPOINTS include:
“Learning Bird Songs“, with step-by-step processes for zeroing on the species of bird you are hearing. Seeing birds is only half the fun!
“Common Birds of the Flathead“, with an emphasis on who’s in a given habitat and how to ID them.
“Sandhill Cranes: Voices from the Eocene”, with a comprehensive natural history of Cranes, along with interpretations of their sophisticated dancing ability.
Now as SCRIPTED POWERPOINTS for classrooms, but soon to be video-converted into narrated PowerPoints on our YouTube channel:
“Ospreys: Ancient Fisher-birds”
“Spring Waterfowl Migrations”
“Winter Birds of Prey”
“Bird Brains: a Sidelong Look at Bird Intelligence”
3. Monthly Public Program Presentations
Every second Monday of the month , September through May, at 7 PM , United Way complex, room 26 (East side of building) — Flathead Audubon has experts on everything “nature” , from grizzly bears to bird intelligence, present a free program open to the public. We also have short sessions on recent bird sightings , and a fun “bird-brain” quiz — sometimes with prizes!
4. Free in-classroom or assembly programs
Our Conservation Educator has over 40 years of experience presenting entertaining and informative programs in schools. We also have many member volunteers who can do the same on their areas of expertise. Scheduling these are subject to availability and workload. Contact the Educator at email@example.com to discuss the possibilities.
5. Free Guides for school birding field trips
We have a number of volunteers with expertise in bird identification and expertise in managing outdoor classrooms. If you desire a field trip separate from other curriculum, we require a short visit to your classroom to prepare the students for proper field trip protocol and behavior. Our Audubon Ambassadors and other Volunteers are properly background-checked and vetted for working with students.
For Questions: Denny Olson, Flathead Audubon Conservation Educator firstname.lastname@example.org
Flathead Audubon’s education program provides educational materials, student field trips, training opportunities and entertaining programs by experts on birds, nature and conservation to help you teach about these subjects. We make it fun with the many Learning Kits and materials available for your use free of charge. Check out our list of Kits and see what might work in your classroom. We now have lighthearted but very educational videos and narrated PowerPoints on our Flathead Audubon Society YouTube channel, and a thorough Bird Education series of four units with field trips, for middle school students. We can tailor programs for public schools and homeschoolers alike.
We also offer programs that are family-friendly, to broaden your knowledge of the natural resources in the beautiful valley that we all share. Check in on our event calendar regularly to see what’s coming next. We offer events all over the valley, and all throughout the year. Come on a family snowshoe walk, or celebrate Family Forestry Expo or the Birds of Prey Festival with us.
Flathead Audubon has many free field trips year-round to help you enjoy our area and learn from experts about our local birds. We also participate in many events around the valley. Every February and March we conduct a 6-week class for Flathead Valley Community College Senior Institute called Birds of Northwest Montana. In September, the Birds of Prey Festival at Lone Pine State Park is not just for kids.