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.

Birds N Feathers

Mark your calendar for this upcoming Birds N Feathers event!

Waterfowl field trip | Nov. 19, 1-3 p.m. | Summit Lake

Birds N Feathers participants are invited to join a birding trip to Summit Lake State Park that focuses on the identification of waterfowl.  No registration needed for this event. See our Field Trips posting for details.

Fox Student Grant recipient: Tabitha Olsen

Each year, graduate students who are conducting bird-centered research on species native to Indiana, including migratory species that breed in Indiana, are invited to apply for the Fox Student Grant.  The grant awards up to $1,500 for the purchase of supplies and/or support for travel and field research expenses. 

Tabitha with a Yellow Rail

The 2022 recipient is Tabitha Olsen, an M.Sc. student in biology at the University of Central Oklahoma. She’s using the Fox Student Grant to support her research on rails, a vulnerable, secretive group of birds that rely on high-quality marshland habitat. Long-term monitoring of these birds has proven challenging to researchers and habitat managers, especially using standard methods and monitoring tools.

Tabitha’s research study, during 2022 and 2023, is therefore examining six species of rail (Clapper Rail, Eastern Black Rail, Yellow Rail, King Rail, Virginia Rail, and Sora) across the Texas Gulf Coast with four different survey methods.  The goal is to determine which methods will facilitate the most successful long-term monitoring of rails and, in turn, make recommendations for improved habitat management and monitoring.

In 2021 Tabitha completed bachelor’s degrees in wildlife science and forestry at Purdue University.

This grant program is made possible through the generous funding of RCAS members Josie and Geoff Fox. For complete details, download the 2022 Fox Student Grant Funding Guidelines.

Past recipients of the grant are Clay Delancey (M.S., Ball State University, 2016), Garrett MacDonald (M.S., Ball State University, 2017), Mary Woodruff (Ph.D., Indiana University, 2019), Lara Jones (M.S. Ball State University, 2021), and Ryan Leys (M.Sc., University of Waterloo, Canada, 2021).

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

Local 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, or if you’d like to sponsor Audubon Adventures for a classroom, please please contact either of our Education Co-chairs, Emma Dragoo (egdragoo@bsu.edu) and Emma Soderstrom (eesoderstrom@bsu.edu).

Past Education Programs

We’ve created and hosted many programs for children in East Central Indiana, introducing them to birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, often in collaboration with other local organizations. 

Our Nature Play Days and our involvement with Nature Preschool Summer Camp helped dozens of preschool children learn about common bird species. 

Our birding class and hike during Camp Prairie Creek—a free environmental day camp for youth, sponsored by Muncie Sanitary District/Stormwater Management—introduced 80 campers to local birds, habitat, and birdwatching.

We’ve brought in special speakers like Dr. Tom Sproat, a wildlife biologist from Kentucky, who let kids and their parents get a close-up look at live owls and hawks. Perhaps most important, in 2015, in collaboration with the Whitely Neighborhood Association, we launched our About Birds program. We distributed copies of Cathryn Sill’s book About Birds and binoculars to after-school programs in Muncie. Since then, we’ve continued to host periodic About Birds activities for kids at Cooper Farm and other locations.