It has been nice to lead educational programs everyday last week. I like the interaction with students of different grade levels and the teaching experience I am gaining as well. The Shorebird Sister Schools Program always involves fourth and fifth grade and with the Tide Pool Programs involve students from 4th, 6th, & 7th grades. Each class and each group of students is always different. So I approach them with a great deal of flexibility and enthusiasm.  I now feel more relaxed when leading a program; I do not hesitate or get overwhelmed with the preparation.

Last week was the first time I had worked with students in middle school. My co-workers had told me that they are the most challenging to deal with because they are often disinterested and at a tough age in general. However, I have also heard that it is a ‘hit or miss’ with them and this time around it was a hit for me. The students I had were the best I have had so far in a tide pool program! They were not only very nice and polite but also interested. Some even said that it was the best field trip they had ever had and that the site (Yaquina Head) was the best place they have been too. Those kids were so excited to be there that it made me much more excited to be there with them.

The USFW crew had our last shorebird field trip last Tuesday, which was sad but the good news is that shorebird program did not end. There is one more lesson that each school will have and it already started last Wednesday. The lesson is focused on threats and solutions to shorebird conservation. We end the lesson with an exciting game of Jeopardy!

The first school to have this lesson was the Newport Intermediate School, which is the school with a high Latino/Hispanic attendance. The Hispanic students in the classrooms we teach in have become my friends, they stop me in the halls to talk to me and they stay after class to say goodbye. Once again it feels so good to be able to translate for the ones that do not speak much English. They really want to participate in the activities and know so much about the shorebirds. They need reassurance that they are understanding everything correctly and it is a joy to provide them with information in their native language.

It is such a pleasure to realize how much all the students have learned from the program through the jeopardy game. They have come very far. Before their participation they knew nothing about shorebirds. Now they are able to name and identify ten different species, talk about their survival requirements, habitat, and overall life history. I am very impressed! I believe the program has planted a seed in them to continue birdwatching and caring for birds and the ecosystems they live in. We asked the students to name their favorite thing from the program and many said-  “Every minute of it!” This is my biggest reward.

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