Education

While virtually every activity of the Robert Cooper Audubon Society has an underlying educational goal, some of our most important educational programs are aimed at children, youth, and university students.

Summer 2019 nature programs

Nature Play DayThe Robert Cooper Audubon Society sponsored two June events to help kids learn more about nature.

Nature Play Days, at the Apple Tree Child Development Center, in Muncie, on June 6:  RCAS volunteers, in partnership with BY5 and the Apple Tree Child Development Center, presented a bird program to fifty preschool children as part of Nature Play Days. Focusing on common species, the program consisted of a reading and discussion of Our Yard Is Full of Birds, an examination of study specimens, and a bird walk.

Nature Preschool Summer Camp, at Cooper Farm, just outside of Muncie, on June 20:  Children at the Nature Preschool Summer Camp—a program developed by Apple Tree’s outdoor educator, Emma Dragoo—joined RCAS volunteers on a rainy day to learn about birds.

To see more photos taken by Robert Williams at both events, visit robert-williams.smugmug.com/Robert-Cooper-Audubon-Society/Nature-Play-Days-2019/i-5RnQTDj.


Fox Student Grant

Mary WoodruffMary Woodruff, a Ph.D. student in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Graduate Program at Indiana University, has been awarded the Robert Cooper Audubon Society's 2019 Fox student Grant! This annual award funds bird-centered student research projects through a generous donation provided by RCAS members Josie and Geoff Fox.

Mary will use the grant to study how Tree Swallows may acclimate or adapt to our warming climate by experimentally heating nest boxes and measuring the physiological and behavioral responses of chicks.

While most species are moving north to avoid rising temperatures, Tree Swallows are actually shifting their breeding range south. By examining begging behavior, growth rate, and and other factors during a simulated heat wave, Mary hopes to identify how Tree Swallows in Indiana may be equipped to handle heat stress. This work will lay the foundation for future experiments exploring thermal resilience and ultimately will inform our understanding of how birds respond to climate change.

The Fox Student Grant is open to both undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students and provides up to $1,000 to purchase supplies and/or support for travel and field research expenses. The research proposal must focus on bird species native to Indiana, including migratory species that breed in Indiana. Proposals for study of habitat critical to breeding and wintering grounds of these species will also be considered.

Clay Delancey and Garrett MacDonald, as graduate students in biology at Ball State University, received the Fox Student Grant in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Applications for the next competition cycle will be solicited in early 2020.


Past education programs

Tom SproatThe Robert Cooper Audubon Society has worked especially hard to introduce area children to wildlife. For example, in two separate presentations at Kennedy Library, children and their parents had the chance to meet Dr. Tom Sproat, a wildlife biologist at Northern Kentucky University, and some of his feathered friends, including several owls and a hawk or two.

Click to see photos of Dr. Sproat's most recent presentation, taken by Robert Williams.

childrensprogramIn the summer of 2015, in collaboration with the Whitely Neighborhood Association, the Robert Cooper Audubon Society launched its About Birds program.

Ten copies of the book About Birds (by Cathryn Sill) and two pairs of binoculars were distributed to each of five after-school programs in Muncie that serve minority children from low-income families in the Whitely neighborhood.  Children participated in a group reading of the book About Birds, which is aimed at readers in kindergarten through third grade. After the reading and discussion, students gathered outside for a short walk, learning how to use binoculars and identify birds.
Click to see more photos from About Birds.

Camp Prairie CreekIn July 2016, RCAS presented a birding class and hike during Camp Prairie Creek, a free environmental day camp for youth, sponsored by Muncie Sanitary District/Stormwater Management.  

RCAS introduced about 80 campers to local birds, habitat, and birdwatching.

To see more camp photos, taken by Robert Williams, visit his photo site.


RCAS Youth Conservation Scholarship

Each year, the winner of our chapter's Charles Wise Youth Conservation Award receives a Robert Cooper Audubon Society Conservation Scholarship.

The scholarship may be used by the winners to fund an ecology project that they have designed or want to participate in.


Audubon Adventures

Audubon AdventuresLocal teachers of 3rd through 5th grades are invited to request Audubon Adventures kits. Each kit serves a classroom of up to 32 children and contains four nature- or conservation-related themes for each academic year.

If you are an educator or you know an educator who would like to use Audubon Adventures in a classroom, please contact Kim Lee, Education Chair, at kalee@bsu.edu. If you'd like to sponsor Audubon Adventures for a classroom, please contact Kim as well.