Florida—Sea Turtle Education

brochure about sea turtles
The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society will distribute this brochure about sea turtles to hotels and other resorts during nesting season.

With the help of an $18,350 grant from the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society has expanded educational outreach about turtles to children and other visitors to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The Wildlife Society purchased life–sized replicas of a loggerhead hatchling and adult, a Kemp’s Ridley adult and a cross–section of a loggerhead sea turtle nest. The models will provide hands–on familiarity with turtles in the “Ding” Darling Education Lab. The grant also will help refuge staff design and purchase sea turtle activity booklets and fund brochures to be distributed during nesting season at hotels and resorts and through the Chamber of Commerce.

“We hope to educate the public about the significance of various sea turtle species as well as the importance of avoiding sea turtle nests and filling in holes on the beach to improve the survival rate of hatchlings,” said Birgie Vertesch, Wildlife Society executive director.

Materials are available at www.dingdarlingsociety.org/kids–page. For information, contact Bergie Vertesch at director@dingdarlingsociety.org.

New Jersey—Celebrate Urban Birds!

It all started with a request for help from teachers leading after–school enrichment programs at two low–income schools in Pleasantville, NJ. The Friends of Forsythe Environmental Education Committee obtained a $500 Celebrate Urban Birds mini–grant from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO) (celebrateurbanbirds.org.) For the past three years, Friends volunteers have been visiting the schools every two weeks to teach third graders about urban birds—starlings, robins, crows, mourning doves, pigeons.

Each week’s program focuses on one of 16 birds and draws 15 to 20 children. The Friends group provides binoculars for a brief outdoor session. The day starlings were featured, the children discovered 500 perched on a power line. Tallies of all the birds seen are sent to Cornell& the children learn they are citizen scientists helping Cornell University gather data about urban birds.

Each year, CLO provides a poster, information about the birds and sunflower seeds for each child. In one session, the Friends help the kids make milk carton birdfeeders.

Volunteer instructor Mar–Jo Atack says, “Most of the children walk to school but don’t even realize there are birds in the city. One came back after our program and said, ‘Guess what? I saw a robin when I was coming to school.’” For information, contact Mar–Jo Atack at marjoa14@aol.com.

Children make milk carton bird feeders
Children make milk carton bird feeders in a Celebrate Urban Birds program organized by Friends of Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, NJ.
Credit: David Blood

Washington—Restoring a Barn

The land now part of Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge was homesteaded by more than 200 families, forming a close‚Äźknit community complete with schools, a post office and regular social events. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a succession of homesteaders built and used what is now called the Hartnett–Simpson barn. Typical of the log barns ubiquitous in the area, its steeply pitched roof shows that the original builder knew how to deal with heavy snow fall.

At the request of refuge manager Jerry Cline, the Friends of Little Pend Oreille worked with an expert in historic restoration and the regional archaeologist to restore the barn, peeling logs and installing new foundation supports. Friends member Dan Price says volunteers will continue to work to reverse some earlier modifications so the barn is as close as possible to its original configuration.

The barn is slated to become one of the first stops on a new auto tour through the refuge. Interpretive signs will be placed in the spring. For more information, contact Jerry_Cline@fws.gov.

Homesteading barn
Friends of Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, WA, helped restore this 1892 homesteading barn.
Credit: Friends of Little Pend Oreille

Texas—Nature Kiosk

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge has no visitor center and no nature store, but the Friends wanted to generate revenue and attract visitors. A nature kiosk fit the bill. The Friends received a $5,000 National Environmental Education Foundation capacity–building grant to purchase the traveling kiosk from Cart King International. The Friends Web address and a photograph were added to a “custom wrap” on the kiosk, which includes a locked storage compartment and a grid to hang merchandise.

“We think this will open some doors for us,” says board member Jim Nosler. The kiosk will be open on weekends even if the headquarters office is closed and Friends will take it to community events to promote both the refuge and the Friends. Two people can lift the kiosk into the back of a pick–up truck. “Just make sure it fits where you intend to store it,” warns Nosler. make sure it fits where you intend to store it, warns Nosler. For more information, contact jnosler@gmail.com.

Traveling nature kiosk
Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX, uses a traveling nature kiosk to sell merchandise and promote the refuge.
Credit: Jim Nosler