Home
Field Notes
 
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
DON EDWARDS SFBAY NWR: Boys Girls Club Students Explore Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
California-Nevada Offices , June 25, 2014
Print Friendly Version
Boys and Girls Club students head out for a hike.
Boys and Girls Club students head out for a hike. - Photo Credit: FWS Staff, Genie Moore
Boys and Girls Club students and leader enjoy the view at the floating dock.
Boys and Girls Club students and leader enjoy the view at the floating dock. - Photo Credit: FWS Staff, Genie Moore
Boys and Girls Club student works on her nature journal out in the field.
Boys and Girls Club student works on her nature journal out in the field. - Photo Credit: FWS Staff, Genie Moore
West Valley College Intern, Joe Kahrnoff, leads the group out to the floating dock.
West Valley College Intern, Joe Kahrnoff, leads the group out to the floating dock. - Photo Credit: FWS Staff, Genie Moore

By Joseph Kahrnoff, West Valley College Student Intern
and Genie Moore, EEC Director

 

This past spring, the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) Environmental Education Center in Alviso hosted 8 students from the local Boys and Girls Club for twice monthly visits to the Refuge (March – June). The students that participated in the program live close to the Refuge and have visited it maybe once or twice on school field trips, school Science Night at the Refuge or with their parents on the weekends. Even though they live nearby, the opportunities to learn more by exploring the Refuge is limited for the students. The Boys and Girls Club program provided an opportunity for this group of 8 to return 6 times to further their Refuge experience through weekly themes, hands on activities, hikes, and further exploration and observation opportunities.

The weekly themes included habitats, birds, plankton, plants, mammals and watersheds. During each visit, the students filled out a nature journal that they made themselves to keep track of what they observed and learned during their twice monthly visits. Each journal page was set up so the students could fill out the location they were visiting that day, the date, the time, the air temperature, the weather, the wind speed direction, and a prediction on what the kids thought they might see that day on the Refuge. They were also allowed time during their exploration to write, draw, or sketch what they were observing during their visit. This nature journal model was used from the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center learning guide, Compass to the Outdoor Classroom: All About Wonder (Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, 2013). We framed this experience by describing that this template is what biologist use when taking notes for whatever theme of study they are conducting.

The activities were all hands on so the students stay engaged and have a fun time by incorporating games with the theme of study for the day. For example, the students learned about producers and the levels of consumers by first collecting a water sample and identifying phytoplankton and zooplankton. They made their observations in their nature journals, and then wrapped up the day by playing food chain games, building food pyramids with blocks, working with stuffed animals as representations of our consumers on the refuge, as well as incorporating the game of tag into representations of animals or plants.
As educators we hope to leave each student with a higher understanding of the environment by creating experiences for them to expand their knowledge about plants, animals, and their habitats. By the end of this program students gained a better appreciation and connection with nature, so they feel more connected and willing to become an active part of preserving our bay land habitats. We also hope to have fun with education and leave the kids with a keen knowledge of our environment to share with their family and friends to show them a love for the outdoors that we share as well.

At the end of each day we conducted a closing circle and asked the students to share with us what they learned and what they wanted to learn more about. Each day we were impressed by their answers, they always wanted to know more and their observations of the day were striking. Many students said, this was the best experience they had on the Refuge. Subsequently, several students have signed up for our week long summer camp later in August. In addition, we have already started our summer series with the Boys and Girls Club. Two groups of 10 students are visiting each week for 7 weeks!

References: Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, Compass to the Outdoor Classroom: All About Wonder, http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Compass6.4%20revised-MARY-SUE2-22-12.pdf.


Contact Info: genie moore, , genie_moore@fws.gov



Send to:
From:

Notes:
Find a Field Notes Entry

Search by keyword

Search by State




Search by Region


US Fish and Wildlife Service footer