by Denny Olson
We are about to transition into the traditional winter-spring conservation education schedule – Great Backyard Bird Count with at least two different schools, FVCC Senior Institute Birds of NW Montana for six weeks, four weeks of the Beauty of Birds class for the general public at Flathead High School (Wednesday evenings), Earth Day Celebration at Whitefish High School April 21, Arbor Day and International Migratory Bird Day celebrations In Kalispell and Pablo (dates TBD), Family Forestry Expo on May 5th, and Field trips to Owen Sowerwine Natural Area with school groups throughout the spring.
The field trip groups will have better access from here on, with Kalispell Montessori providing parking and bus drop-off, and we will have a new connector trail with walkways over seasonally wet areas between the Montessori grounds and out existing OSNA trail system.
In the background, there is always something going on, and this year is no exception. We will be moving our trunk storage area from the NW Montana Educational Coop to Lone Pine State Park. The Coop is moving to a much smaller space in the early spring, and there is no room for us there. It is the end of a wonderful relationship between FAS and the Coop which has been going for decades, and we are extremely grateful for their help over the years.
Lone Pine State Park jumped in to help, and will provide storage space in their downstairs area for us. It is a nice reciprocal relationship for both us and them, as they have been frequent users of our trunks in the past.
And, the trunks are being overhauled a bit. We are adding new activities to most of them which follow a “call to action” theme. For example, the Cavity Nester’s Trunk will culminate in some construction and placement of bird nest boxes. We also will be adding curriculum with two very important conservation themes, (1) the value of birds to us and to the world (why they matter), and (2) how the rate of climate change is already affecting bird survival.
We also will be correlating every activity in our trunks with New Generation Science Standards, to make them even more teacher-friendly than they already are. And speaking of teacher-friendly, we are going to beat the drums for a new set of volunteer FAS School Ambassadors to promote trunk use in the schools, identify teacher users, help with transportation to and from schools and generally shepherd the trunk use in their adopted school. So if you are interested in helping with this, please let us know!
Off in the distance, we are looking at producing a new Osprey Trunk, which will lead to some wonderful conservation messages and field trip opportunities in OSNA to watch Ospreys, and also to provide research opportunities for local high school students. Exciting horizons ahead!