Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
DON EDWARDS S.F. BAY NWR: “Endangered Species Extravaganza!” Engages Latino Families at Bay Area Refuge
California-Nevada Offices , January 2, 2013
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Participants in the 2012 Endangered Species Extravaganza! at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Widlife Refuge
Participants in the 2012 Endangered Species Extravaganza! at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Widlife Refuge - Photo Credit: Michael D'Agostino, USFWS
Tissue paper flower designs were a big hit at the Extravaganza.
Tissue paper flower designs were a big hit at the Extravaganza. - Photo Credit: Michael D'Agostino, USFWS

By Michael D'Agostino, Environmental Education Intern, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

On November 6, 2012, staff at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge celebrated their annual after-school community outreach event, “Science Night.” Held at the refuge’s Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Alviso, Calif., this yearly event aims to engage children and families from the local, predominantly latino George Mayne Elementary School about environmental conservation. The event highlights the prominent role the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plays in protecting America’s public lands and imperiled species.

The theme for Science Night 2012 was “Endangered Species Extravaganza!” From 6–7:30 p.m., the EEC was open to George Mayne Elementary students and their parents, providing a funhouse of environmental education games, crafts and prizes. Each activity station inside and outside the building emphasized a local habitat and federally-protected plant or animal in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This year marked one of the most successful Science Night events yet, reaching 159 enthusiastic participants. The event was made possible with the help of two partner organizations, over a dozen dedicated Service staff and interns, volunteers and George Mayne Elementary teachers.

Highlights from the event included giant sea turtle shells and bones provided by Youth Science Institute, and numerous bird and feather specimens brought by the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. Additional activities involved arts and crafts stations where children made take-home Western Snowy Plover nests using cotton balls and feathers, fashioned colorful butterfly masks, and created delicate tissue paper flower designs.

There were also: a coloring, crossword and word searches station emphasizing endangered species vocabulary and facts; interactive bird matching and adaptation activities; multimedia PowerPoint and film presentations; a mud creature laboratory exploration; and a puppet show.

Service biologists and interns provided first-hand accounts of how endangered species—such as the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse and California Clapper Rail—are studied and managed on refuge lands. Children learned about population survey techniques, such as small mammal trapping and bird call recordings.

The family-orientated event allowed parents to learn about the National Wildlife Refuge System and the free educational and recreational opportunities it provides, while their children were engaged in understanding the unique ecology, biodiversity and rare species living all around them. Teachers reveled in the excitement demonstrated by the K-5 students as they experienced science in a novel, non-traditional educational setting.

Children who completed at least six different activity stations received a free National Wildlife Refuge System Coloring Book (offered in English or Spanish). Participants also filled out a Conservation Pledge, indicating how their families and friends will remain dedicated to natural resource and endangered species conservation.

Children left the event empowered to become future stewards of America’s wild places, while adult participants developed a deeper appreciation for the need to protect refuge lands and waters and, in turn, create a healthier environment for humans and wildlife alike.

Contact Info: Doug Cordell, 510-774-4080, doug_cordell@fws.gov
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