Neighborhood Nestwatch School Participation

SMBC researcher Bob Reitsma holds a small bird and talks to a group of students and teachers about the Neighborhood Nestwatch program

Neighborhood Nestwatch provides a fun and educational outdoor opportunity for second- to eighth-grade students, right in their schoolyard. This critically important outreach takes place primarily in under-resourced communities throughout the Washington, D.C., region where children and teens rarely encounter wildlife.

As with the backyard version of Neighborhood Nestwatch, participants are taught how to identify and monitor birds, as well as to send observations back to the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center. Each year Smithsonian scientists turn a local park or participating schoolyard into an outdoor classroom. They conduct live bird-banding demonstrations and offer other engaging activities aligned with current national and state curriculum standards. See an example of a Neighborhood Nestwatch lesson plan.

For students these experiences can increase science literacy, promote environmental stewardship, and open minds to the possibility of a career in a science or technology field. School visits take place during the backyard-visit season and begin as early in the morning as possible. Visits include age-appropriate content and last about 2 to 4 hours, depending on the number of classes involved.

Read a Smithsonian Insider article about this program.