by Bill Mees and Nancy Bedan

The weather was “iffy” at best for the 2nd grade field trip, Raptor Rehab was unsure they would be able to attend, MRBO was going to offer a program not attempted with this age group and the banding station was all new staff from Rockbridge High School.  With this prelude, what could possibly go wrong?

NOTHING that’s what

Who would have predicted?  Not the weather forecasters since there was no rain for 3 consecutive days between 9 A.M. and 2 P.M.  Raptor Rehab was able to recruit knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers who mesmerized the students with owls, hawks and a Turkey Vulture.  Dr. Andrew Kinslow and his high school students captivated the 2nd graders with freshly captured birds (including an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Black-capped Chickadee banded 2 years earlier).  And Missouri River Bird Observatory presented its first “Bird Sounds” class to 2nd grade students.  The 4th activity on the field trip agenda continues to be “Dissecting Owl Pellets.”  Who doesn’t enjoy looking for bones in owl pellets to determine what the owl was eating?

Some readers may not be familiar with this field trip, now in its 9th year.  This field trip is a half day event for the students but it’s all day, morning and afternoon, for presenters and volunteers.  There are 4 activities, each lasting 25 minutes (remember these are 2nd graders with short attention spans.)  Every 25 minutes every student walks to the next activity station.  It is choreographed madness that works.  For the students the field trip is a dash but for the volunteers and presenters it is a three day marathon.

By the numbers:  Columbia Public Schools has 21 elementary schools.  Twenty elementary schools participated in this event.  71 teachers accompanied 1300 students to Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary.  Many of the classrooms were also accompanied by parents and grandparents

Can anyone think of a more fitting use of Columbia Audubon’s nature sanctuary?  I bet not. The photo below shows Andrew Kinslow banding birds with the second graders. (Photo by Nancy Bedan)

CAS wants to acknowledge Mike Szydlowski, K-12 Science Coordinator, and Ragan Webb, Elementary Science Coordinator, and all the high school and middle school students who staffed activity stations for this event.  Columbia Audubon Society is excited to continue its Partner in Education relationship with Columbia Public Schools.  Thank you MRBO and Raptor Rehab for your expertise.  Thank you to all the CAS volunteers who made this year’s Band With Nature field trip such a success.