Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
HOPPER MOUNTAIN NWR: Fillmore School Kids Participate in Art Contest for a Chance to Encounter a California Condor in the Wild
California-Nevada Offices , June 2, 2008
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First Grader, Ocelott Martinez' winning artwork. (Courtesy Ocellot Martinez)
First Grader, Ocelott Martinez' winning artwork. (Courtesy Ocellot Martinez) - Photo Credit: n/a
Fifth grader Evelyn Alferez top prize winner views condors in the wild. (Photo: USFWS)
Fifth grader Evelyn Alferez top prize winner views condors in the wild. (Photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

Ivett Plascencia, Hopper Mountain NWR

San Cayetano Elementary School, located in Fillmore, California on the foothills of condor country, recently partnered with Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Refuge) to help connect students with the recovery of the endangered California condor and excite them about the wilderness areas adjacent to their community.

San Cayetano students, teachers and principal were enthusiastic after learning that condors live and nest right over the hills from their school.  Maybe they would see one flying over the school one day! A short drive away in the mountains above Fillmore sits Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge at 2,471 acres. The refuge is surrounded by the Sespe Wilderness at 219,000 acres and Sespe Condor Sanctuary at 53,000 acres all of which have been set aside to further the recovery of the endangered California condor.

The Refuge provided teachers books, posters, and activity sheets on condors that the teachers utilized in the classroom culminating; in a school wide art contest focused on California condors. On May 19th  the Refuge received 125 art entries from students. The winners were announced during a school wide presenation about the National Wildlife Refuge System and the recovery of the California condor on May 30th.

Students cheered at a real size condor replica and at a demonstration of radio telemetry equipment used by biologists to track condors in the wild. The room got quiet as the students were shown a short clip of a condor and her single egg in a nest cave. At the end of the presentation the art contest winners were presented with their prizes which included a  certificate, condor posters, condor plush dolls, and books on the California condor.  The Grand Prize winners, Ocelott Martinez, first grade and Evelyn Alferez, fifth grade learned they had won for their entire class a field trip to Bitter Creek NWR to view California condors in the wild.  In addition, the two grand prize winners each received a condor doll, two condor books, condor poster, condor t-shirt, personalized certificate, with a framed copy of their art work and copies of the art printed as post cards for their families. The winning classes were  excited to hear they would see California condors in the wild as part of their field trip.

The two winning classes and teachers were picked up in a school bus on Monday June 2nd and taken to Bittercreek NWR.  On the trip to the Refuge, condor feathers, an egg, skull, and transmitters, along with pictures of California condors, American badgers, barn owls and other wildlife were passed around the bus. After the bus arrived at Bittercreek NWR the students gathered under the shade of two trees where they ate lunch and were introduced to the Wildlife Refuge Manager.  After lunch, the students were taken on a tour armed with binoculars and spotting scopes, where the students were able to see the condors and other wildlife including an active barn owl nest.  The students were so exited to see the condors which they had only seen in books, feeding in real life on a carcass. When we told them that one of our biologists was sitting in a blind observing condors a fifth grader asked if she could come work with us some day.  The students were very observant calling out the condors’ tag numbers and asking about other wildlife seen that day. All students were very thankful to have been able to come to the refuge and they all waved good bye as the school bus left through the refuge gates.

The art contest, school presentation, and field trip were an overwhelming success thanks to the dedication of the Principal, teachers, and Refuge staff in providing the students the opportunity to connect with wilderness areas adjacent to their community and to experience wildlife first hand. 

Condor Art Contest entries and pictures from the field trip can be viewed on the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex home page at http://hoppermountian.fws.gov.


Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov
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