Connecting children with nature can help them learn about the effects of climate change on wildlife and their habitats. USFWS photo by Vicki Sherry. Download.
Climate change is a complicated, complex issue. But for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff in Ohio, teaching kids about climate change can be as simple as child’s play.
On Earth Day 2011, the Service teamed up with the Columbus Zoo to give children a hands-on look at the impacts of a changing climate on wildlife. As part of the activities, staff from the Service’s Reynoldsburg Ecological Services Field Office bring a kid’s-eye view to climate change with games and challenges.
Biologist Melanie Cota and assistant Melanie Cheng lead a game called "The Climate Challenge" to help teach children about the impacts on climate change on birds. The young players assume the role of birds faced with a variety of challenges expected to pose actual threats to birds as the climate changes:
The plants that you rely on for food bloomed and fell early because of a warmer spring. There is just barely enough food for you this year, is one of many scenarios faced by players.
As they play, children see how climate change is affecting birds through food, habitat and migration, from rising sea levels in coastal nesting areas to early hatch of insects before migrating birds arrive.
“Although this is meant to be a fun game, I think it sends an important message that we all need to pay attention to because we are already starting to see impacts from climate change on our trust resources,” Cheng said.