December 21, 2018
Members of the Early Bird Club
Similar to last year, this season’s BirdSpotter contest is celebrating teachers and students who love birds. Congratulations to Jodi Sikma, our first winner, and her K-4 students at Hamilton Elementary School in Hamilton, Michigan!
Jodi is a teacher for an outdoor-based STEM class. She brings lessons about birds into classrooms during the spring and fall for four elementary schools, impacting a total of about 1200 kids. During the winter, she has a smaller group called the Early Bird Club which consists of several students in kindergarten through fourth grade.
Jodi learned about Project FeederWatch through the Cornell Lab’s K-12 Education program, formally known as BirdSleuth. She says that, this year, her class was given a generous donation of black oil sunflower seeds from their local nature center and her students are excited to have this nutritious and well-loved seed to attract birds. Students that are part of the Early Bird Club meet once weekly, early in the morning. She says “Not only do these young birders fill feeders every week but, during FeederWatch, they have the extra responsibility of counting birds for a real-life, authentic project.”
The students’ favorites birds are those with lots of color, such as Blue Jays and Cardinals. When one comes to their feeders, “you can feel the excitement in the air” says Jodi. She also noted that the Early Bird Club members love Black-capped Chickadees, and enjoy mimicking their song.
When we asked if Jodi had any advice for getting students into birding, she had this to say:
Just do it! It makes so much sense. Birds are accessible no matter where the school is located. Bird work is multigenerational. Kids are connecting with parents, grandparents, and other community members via birds. The curriculum connections are endless and the resources provided by [Cornell Lab’s K-12 Education program] make it easy to jump in and have meaningful, fun activities to do with kids.
Thanks to all of the schools who have entered so far! Over the course of the BirdSpotter contest, we will be randomly selecting three teachers who use FeederWatch as a way to engage students with hands-on science. Winners receive goodies from the Cornell Lab and a gift card from our sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited. We are still taking entries: Submit an entry form for a chance to be our next winner, which will be announced January 18th, 2019. You can learn more about the resources available from Cornell Lab’s K-12 Education program, formally known as BirdSleuth, on their new website.