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Students Install and Monitor Bluebird Boxes

posted Apr 2, 2013, 10:52 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 10, 2013, 11:58 AM ]
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), La Grande Field Office in coordination with Joseph
Charter School (JCS), applied for and was granted two educational grants (totaling $5950, to
date) for the JCS -Schoolyard Habitat/Outdoor Classroom Project in 2012 and 2013.

The Schoolyard Habitat program helps teachers, students, parents, and the local community
create wildlife habitat on school grounds. An outdoor classroom is an outdoor educational
facility that can be developed into a natural study grounds for educators, students and
anyone interested in the natural environment. All subjects or curriculum can be presented
in an outdoor classroom. There are several components to this Schoolyard Habitat/Outdoor
Classroom Program currently being developed at Joseph Charter School including; bluebird
habitat monitoring, pollinator garden planting and curriculum, and other habitat enhancement/
outdoor learning activities.

On March 19, Michelle Keffer’s 4th grade class and Dave Yost’s 8th grade shop students installed
bluebird boxes (constructed by the 8th graders in Dave’s shop class) at JCS. Volunteers helping
with this program included; Lindsey Jones, Jacquie Medina, Janet Hohmann, and Gretchen
Sausen (USFWS). Later, the 4th graders shared with Jill Hite’s 3rd grade class things they learned
about bluebird habitat needs from Tuesday’s field activity. Later in the week, on March 21st,
Lindsey Jones and Gretchen Sausen returned to the classroom and a very brief visit outdoors
in the blowing snow, with the 3rd and 4th grade students, sharing a lesson plan for monitoring
the bluebird boxes on the school grounds. In addition to the monitoring, the students will test
a scientific hypothesis about bluebirds, using data collected through monitoring of the bluebird
boxes. This activity is estimated to be for approximately 11 weeks, or up to the end of the
school year, dependent on the weather and bird use of the boxes.

These outdoor learning activities demonstrate how humans can provide habitat for native bird
species and other native cavity nesters by putting bird boxes in appropriate locations. Students
also learn about the habitat needs and ecology of the two bluebird species (mountain bluebird
and western bluebird) and other native and non-native birds found in Northeast Oregon.
Students are divided up (both 3rd and 4th graders in each group), six groups in total for the
number of nest boxes installed. The USFWS provided the teachers with four Let’s Go Outside
backpacks to use for this weekly monitoring, filled with binoculars, bird identification book,
bluebird and other bird laminated identification sheets, and clipboard with monitoring forms
attached.

Other bird ecology curriculum is being developed for K-2 for this year, and planning is underway
for installation of a pollinator garden on school grounds this May. Anyone wishing to help with
planning and/or work days associated with this JCS schoolyard habitat program (including the
pollinator garden installation and curriculum) please contact Gretchen Sausen at 541-962-8695.

   
   

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