The Rancocas Nature Center was founded in 1997, becoming New Jersey Audubon Society’s fourth active educational center and the first in southern New Jersey. Rancocas Nature Center programs and field trips serve more than 20,000 adults and children each year.
Celebrate Urban Birds Field Studies
Rancocas Nature Center used Celebrate Urban Bird kits in field studies for young adults enrolled in The Work Group, a program out of Pennsauken, NJ, which equips at-risk youth in transition to adulthood with the skills, education, and confidence to become self-directed individuals who are productive and responsible members of their communities.
Teacher-naturalists from Rancocas took Celebrate Urban Birds kits to Pennsauken to train the Work Group students in the study of birds; including using field marks, observation techniques, the use of binoculars and journaling methods. They also worked with the youth to make and record observations and drawings of urban birds.
Afterwards, there were follow-up activities in the classrooms. One activity, for example, was to listen to recorded bird calls, discuss avian and human communication and then write and perform songs of their own. Participants extended their urban bird observations/recordings when they visited Rancocas Nature Center and compared their findings to those they made in the city.
Mary Belko writes:
“I wanted to forward some photos of the surveys with The Work Group. We had pouring rain on Monday with the first group of 14, but sunshine on Tuesday. The coolest was watching a robin sitting on a nest in the pouring rain. It really made us appreciate the life of a bird. Some of the same kids went out again the second day and were surprised to see less of the urban birds in the sunshine than in the rain. We had vultures, red tailed hawk, Cormorant, tree and barn swallows, great views of the orioles one day, and a Great Egret one day. Tuesday’s group really loved watching the red-winged blackbirds and the swallows buzzing around us.”
Rancocas Nature Center created two separate events to Celebrate Urban Birds. The first was a hands-on after-school “Teachers’ Tease” – a workshop using Celebrate Urban Birds kits. Rancocas held two of these workshops, where participants engaged in bird observation activities and then captured and communicated their experiences through the arts. Participating teachers created journals that incorporated observations, story-writing, poetry, drawings and paintings.
All teachers were invited to drop in for tea and educational treats!