The U.S. teachers and students of the Migratory Bird Center's international educational program, Bridging the Americas (BTA), have been eagerly awaiting responses from their partner classes in Latin America. In January, the U.S. students sent letters, artwork, and other creative materials focusing on the migratory birds shared in common to their partner classes. In mid-April, just as the birds began returning from their wintering grounds, packets from the Latin American partner classes also began to arrive.
BTA teachers describe the excitement experienced by their students as they open the packets from their counterparts in another country. Some received home-made, but elaborate, artwork from students in rural areas such as the Island of Ometepe in Nicaragua. Others received drawings of shared migratory birds from children who live in larger cities such as Heredia, Costa Rica, or Veracruz, Mexico. Students from coastal schools in Isla Mujeres, Mexico sent wonderful descriptions of the birds and other wildlife they observe on their daily walks to school along marshes and beaches. Many teachers exchanged photographs of their students working in the classroom with materials from their BTA Teacher’s Manual.
Throughout the year, teachers took advantage of the BTA Outreach Program. Migratory Bird Center educator Susan Bradfield visited many local classes to give presentations using study specimens of migratory birds on loan from the Natural History Museum and to listen to students as they shared knowledge learned as a result of participating in the program.
BTA teachers and students were also part of the 2011 International Migratory Bird Day Festival at Rock Creek Park organized by the Migratory Bird Center. Festival attendees were treated to a performance by students from Fairhill and Brent Elementary Schools as they sang songs and read original poetry about migratory birds.
In all, about 100 classes in the U.S, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Colombia were introduced to the wonders of bird migration this year. Although the school year is coming to an end, the desire to learn more about birds and to conserve their habitats is just beginning for these students. We look forward to sharing the wonder of birds again next year with these exceptional teachers and their next contingent of enthusiastic students!