Eastern Sierra Audubon’s Birds in the Classroom Program was created by Audubon members Sara Steck and Rosie Howard at Bishop Elementary School in the 1990’s, and has been enjoyed by 3rd grade students and Audubon volunteers in Bishop for over 20 years! Starting in 2015, we combined Birds in the Classroom with the monthly 3rd grade Taking Root field program that was started by Hillary Behr when she was with the Bishop Paiute Tribe, and moved the birding location to the Tribe’s Conservation Open Space Area (COSA) that is right behind the school. This program, along with the Birds in the Classroom component in May, is currently coordinated by the Outdoor Education/Science Specialist at the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools (ICSOS) office. In the 2017-18 school year, the Taking Root program was expanded to the rest of the Owens Valley, bringing birding classroom and field lessons to students from Lone Pine to Round Valley.
The Birds in the Classroom program consists of two to three classroom sessions and one field trip for each participating class. Prior to the field trips, Audubon volunteers will present a slideshow (created by ESAS member Phil Kiddoo) about birds and their amazing diversity, migration, and habitat needs, and students will have an opportunity to discuss, share their own experiences, and ask questions that they may have. Another classroom visit prior to the field program is to teach students to correctly use and care for the Audubon binoculars, with tips on finding and pointing out birds they see.
The class field trips to the COSA in Bishop, and for Round Valley, Big Pine, Owens Valley school in Independence, and Lone Pine, the areas near their schools they’ve been visiting all year with Taking Root, are scheduled during spring migration in May for maximum viewing of birds. Audubon provides binoculars for the students and training in their proper use for each student during the field trips. Students will also have the opportunity to learn about and use birding field guides.
Volunteers are needed each year in spring to help with the classroom presentations and field trips.
If you are interested in volunteering to help students learn about birds, either in the classroom, in the field, or both, or if you want more information about becoming a docent for our Taking Root or other ICSOS field programs, please contact the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools Outdoor Education / Science Specialist, Maggie Riley, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-873-3262 ext. 2131.