I don’t know why I was quite surprised to discover this, but it seems that 3rd graders get really excited when talking about birds. As a naturally over enthusiastic person, I am usually alone in my zealousness for all things wildlife related, and I have gotten used to people generally ignoring me when I go off on some wilderness rant in the middle of a rerun of The Voice on NBC. Luckily, I had the opportunity this week to speak to Mrs. Rodriguez’s third grade class at Maggie Cordova Elementary School. I was pleasantly surprised to see that as I talked about shorebirds and migration the students sat and stared at me with wide eyes. I was afraid to hope that they were genuinely interested in what I was saying, and honestly I was unsure if they were zoning out or actually engaged in my quick lecture. It wasn’t until one boy asked me, “is it so they can find food?” that I realized they might be listening. I was elated.
We took a quick break from talking to play “The Migration Game” and test which birds would make it to their new summer home. They each picked which bird they wanted to be and we took turns rolling dice and reading cue cards I had hung around the classroom which would decide their fate. After a few awkward moments of me squawking like a crow to let them know it was okay to be goofy get into their bird characters, the kids finally seemed amused and appreciative that I was willing to roll around on the floor with them in simulation of their violent deaths at the hands of feral cats. It eventually transitioned nicely into a discussion about what we can all do to help birds.
As we did a quick playground walk to see what birds might be out and about I realized I wasn’t ready to be done. The attention and enthusiasm I had gotten from the kids regarding birds was inspiring and I remembered why I had always loved working with kids so much. Lucky for me this was just the first of many outreach opportunities, and I consider myself so fortunate to have had such a great first experience leading a discussion about birds in a small classroom. By the time I left I realized that this is just the beginning, and I am so excited for what the rest of this internship will hold for me!