Birds As Teachers in Colombia
Birds can always teach us something. That’s true for all of us, but especially for children, with their innate curiosity and openness to learning from their surroundings.
In Colombia’s coffee-growing region in the Central Andes—where children grow up surrounded by local and migrant birds—Audubon designed an educational program to strengthen awareness of migratory birds and motivate local people to support conservation of bird habitats.
Supported by USFW-NMBCA, the project is called “Developing a Framework for Community-Based Conservation of Cerulean Warbler, Golden-Winged Warbler, and Canada Warbler in the Central Andes of Colombia.” Following the official guidelines and standards from the Colombian Ministry of Education, Audubon developed a curriculum for teachers and students in primary and lower secondary schools that integrates bird- and conservation-related content into core school subjects such as natural sciences, social sciences, mathematics, language, and citizenship skills. Teachers were actively involved in the development and evaluation of content.
The curriculum includes teacher guidelines and colorful, engaging student book with learning guides, which has four learning moments, activities to be developed during the classes or in the field (PDF). Implies work with classmates, parents, and community. We are inviting them to establish some actions that will benefit birds creating gardens or native plant nurseries. Students will improve their knowledge about birds and participate in community science and other activities, we expect that the program will complement our broader efforts to build a conservation constituency to support priority actions for birds in the Central Andes and beyond.
As funding becomes available Audubon will work with partners and teachers to integrate the new curriculum into schools across the region elevating connections across the hemisphere and growing a constituency of future bird lovers and conservation leaders. Initially, we will develop five pilots that will impact five rural schools (470 students) in strategic areas for the conservation of birds within the Central Andes Birding Trail.
We have considered three steps for the pilots:
1. Deliver the educational toolkit to five schools, which includes: The curriculum (students’ book and guidelines for teachers), guides of birds of Colombia, learning aids and other educational material developed (bird’s eco-cards and bird’s puzzles).
2. Implementation: Teachers and students will be developing the learning guides. Meanwhile, we are monitoring the process.
3. Measure of the success: We will be measuring some success indicators related to:
- Learning progress (1st-2nd year of implementation)
- Participation in citizen science, new users and reports on eBird (2nd – 3rd year)
- Implementation of actions for conservation, like gardens or nurseries for birds, campaigns, birds festivals, among others (4th- 5th year).
Sustainable Livestock Playbook
Audubon Americas is working to promote best practices for sustainable farming systems that improve the quality of habitats for birds and increase their abundance. Among these practices are silvopasture systems that generate added value for cattle ranchers by increasing productivity and resilience.
Audubon is developing a “Playbook for Sustainable Livestock Farming,” a publication that compiles information and best practices in topics such as:
- Silvopasture systems and their economic, environmental, and social benefits
- Birds and their benefits
- Planning for bird conservation in silvopasture systems
- Monitoring techniques.
Audubon Americas is developing this playbook in alliance with partners including the CIPAV Foundation’s Center for Research on Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems, The Nature Conservancy, and Corporación Vivo Cuenca.
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