Spreading our wings: Bird School Project’s plan for expanding outdoor education
The Bird School Project uses outdoor experiential learning to inspire and equip students and teachers to love, study, and steward their local environment. With your support, BSP strives to reach more students and inspire them to become environmental changemakers.
The Bird School Project (BSP) was founded in 2014 by two UC Santa Cruz
Environmental Studies alumni who saw a need to inspire and equip both students and teachers to love, study, and steward their local environment, particularly among youth in urban areas.
Inspired by the ubiquitous nature of birds, BSP engages students by visiting schools and taking students right outside on their school campus to discover the local avifauna first hand.
The Bird School Project’s main program, a four-visit life science unit, includes schoolyard birding with binoculars, close examination of museum specimens, and the use of a field journal in which students transform their observations outside into creative data that marks their own progress in understanding.
A majority of our programs are now in school districts in which students are over 80% percent Latino, over 46% English Language learners, and have between 66% and 76% of students qualifying for the federal free or reduced price lunch program.
Research clearly indicates that time spent connecting with nature significantly improves people’s mental and emotional well-being, which is seriously at risk for many young people today.
Our highly successful core program costs less than $6 per student, but connects them to the natural resources right in their own communities, allowing them to immediately and continuously apply the skills taught.
10,000 Students in 2022
Over the past five years, BSP has designed a collaborative professional learning program for traditional classroom teachers to gain comfort and become passionate about instructing science outside.
As the pandemic began and schoolyards closed, BSP stepped up to support teachers with live virtual presentations and provided outdoor, nature-based activities for small cohorts of students who needed to be on campus to access their online classes.
Now, with help from undergraduate interns from UCSC’s Ken Norris Center for Natural History and CSU Monterey Bay’s service learning program, our multi-visit schoolyard program will relaunch to reach over 10,000 students, grades 5-10, in the 2021-22 school year.
With your support we can greatly multiply our impact by investing in the following:
- Increasing Leadership Team Capacity
- Ensuring Affordable Access to our Core Schoolyard Program
- Empowering Youth through Field Internships
- Expanding Professional Learning & Teacher Collaboration
1. Increasing Leadership Team Capacity
BSP’s core leadership team currently consists of one full-time and two part-time positions.
Expanding our team’s capacity to three full-time positions would allow us to better train instructional staff, supervise more interns, participate in and host more community events, nurture relationships with the families of our students, and multiply our impact through new partnerships with other environmental education organizations.
2. Ensuring Affordable Access to our Core Schoolyard Program
Each year we rely on the contributions of foundations and hundreds of individual supporters to further supplement program fees for schools, ensuring equitable access to our core schoolyard program.
By supplementing program fees with donations and grants we are able to offer full scholarships and discounts to classrooms that face financial limitations, while providing livable wages and training for a diverse team of instructors and undergraduate student interns.
3. Empowering Youth through Field Internships
Our field internship program creates a secondary pathway to nature for high school students in Santa Cruz County. This paid internship supports four to five students per year to immerse themselves in nature, develop field science skills, and envision themselves as environmental stewards.
4. Expanding Professional Learning & Teacher Collaboration
Supporting ongoing collaboration with teachers to integrate science learning with outdoor education and environmental literacy is paramount to amplifying our impact.
Our leadership team will be available to work with more teachers on nature-based lesson sequences and activities for students, as well as support more experiences exploring nature with teachers.
Donate to The Bird School ProjectHelp The Bird School Project raise the funds to soar to new heights and expand their programs over the next three years!