Every Second Sunday of the month we offer a program-usually a presentation followed by a walk. This particular Second Sunday program discussed the impact of this problem on children as well as on the Refuge (System).
Discovery Den –teachers and people who enjoy working with children. Every 6 weeks put together “hands on” activities for children that are offered in the library. WOC—an extensive boardwalk system through a variety of habitats where wildlife viewing is good and fairly easy for children. goal—to teach children how to look and what to look for—specific things about the habitat and specific markings; shape; size of the animal; these observations are captured in the booklet that is very structured to identify these observations.
The group decided to create a booklet that could be used by each child. During the process of completing the booklet, Friends volunteers would be present on the boardwalks to assist. Upon completion of the booklet the child would be rewarded. The backpacks would be used by the Friends volunteer to assist them in discussing the questions with the child.
Intended for children ages 5 to 13; The topics selected were thought to be things that children would like to see on a walk In creating the booklet many pictures of animals, plants were taken from the internet. The process took about 1½ years to complete; The premise of requiring more than one visit was to encourage the family to visit at different times.
Training was quite extensive. Training on invertebrates and sedges & grasses planned for this year as part of on going volunteer training. Upon completion of the course, each participant receives a certificate. While the training provided a great deal of information, the volunteer does not feel that they are experts. The process may require getting information from Refuge checklists or brochures that are available for use in the backpack. One of the main functions of the volunteer is to point out the wildlife along the boardwalk for viewing.
The program was rolled in the Spring of 2009. Upon purchasing the booklet, the child got a bag with a small magnifier and pencil. The booklet was priced at $2.00 but is being reduced to $1.00 since printing costs are less. The initial day the booklets were free. There is a charge for the booklet to encourage the child to be serious about the project. Currently the program is offered several weekends in the spring and fall. It is hoped that the booklets will be available during migration staffing in the spring and fall and that volunteers would be trained to assist.
Process requires observation; some research using the materials in the backpack journaling and drawing pictures. Depending on the age of the child, the volunteer may assist or provide the information for them to research. Be prepared they may ask you questions!! We have a number of frogs and we have an I-flyer in the backpack that has the various frog sounds that the child may hear.
Each page of the booklet must be signed off by a volunteer who may ask the child a few questions to verify that they have learned the information. When the booklet is completed they raise their right hand to recite a pledge. (The volunteer has access to the answers for verification purposes)
The children are very proud of their accomplishment. Additional note: getting the word out to the community about the program has been challenging. We have found that setting up a display on the registration table such as turtle shells or a scope focused on a nest, draws more people to the table to get information on the program.
Junior Refuge Manager
<ul><li>LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS by Richard Louv discussed at a Second Sunday program. </li></ul><ul><li>One of the participants suggested that the Friends should do more to get children outside. </li></ul>
PROCESS <ul><li>Discovery Den Members began to conceptualize the format </li></ul><ul><li>Program would take place at our Wildlife Observation Center (WOC) </li></ul><ul><li>The goal was to encourage children to be more observant and to learn how to journal. </li></ul>
REFUGE SUPPORT <ul><li>Once the concept and basic approach were established, needed buy in from Refuge management. </li></ul><ul><li>They loved the idea and submitted a grant request for $5000 to support the project. </li></ul><ul><li>The grant provided money to have the final booklets printed, covered the cost of training by a Refuge biologist for one day, 2 scopes, and 10 back packs. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Books/literature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Binoculars </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magnifying glass </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Frog calls </li></ul></ul>
BOOK DEVELOPMENT <ul><li>Team identified what would be covered in the book </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Frogs -Invertebrates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Snakes -Birds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turtles -Trees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of magnifying glass and binoculars </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information on Great Swamp NWR and the Refuge System </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intended to have child complete in 2 or more visits </li></ul></ul>
VOLUNTEER TRAINING <ul><li>A Refuge Biologist provided a full day of training on Reptiles & Amphibians. </li></ul><ul><li>Program well attended and trainees received a pin that can be worn on vest. </li></ul><ul><li>Additional training on Invertebrates scheduled for this year. </li></ul><ul><li>The volunteer’s roll is to point out wildlife and to discuss the various questions if child needs assistance. </li></ul>
PROGRAM LAUNCHED <ul><li>Program rolled out in Spring </li></ul><ul><li>Table set up at WOC with books, magnifiers, pencil for each child. </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteers position themselves at various locations on the boardwalk. </li></ul>
IMPLEMENTATION <ul><li>A child can fill out the book as they go along </li></ul><ul><li>Parents are encouraged to help their children if needed </li></ul><ul><li>Some children take the books home to fill out the answers. </li></ul>
COMPLETION <ul><li>Each page of the booklet is signed off by a volunteer </li></ul><ul><li>When the booklet is completed, the child recites a pledge </li></ul><ul><li>Receives a badge and a gift certificate for $5 at the Nature Shop to buy a Field Guide. </li></ul>
A NEW JUNIOR REFUGE MANAGER <ul><li>“ I promise to respect the animals and plants of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and all other refuges and parks, to continue to learn about wildlife and nature, and to protect the habitats of wildlife for future generations” </li></ul>