Can a first grader make a difference in our environment? That was the question that San Marcos Elementary North County first graders investigated under the direction of science teacher Shelley Glenn Lee as part of the Conservancy’s Project Based Learning Program. Several years ago, after completing an inquiry-based study, they concluded that providing safer homes for nesting birds would help protect our bird population. With the help of High Tech High ninth graders and Conservancy Board Member and bird expert, Ron Forster, they constructed and painted owl boxes. Three were placed on Conservancy property in Elfin Forest. Last year, blue birds were the focus.
Photos by Ron Forster
This year Shelly’s students embarked on a study of wrens with Ron and his wife Laura’s assistance. In early December, 60 proud first-grade students traveled to Elfin Forest to help preserve our wren population. Two birdhouses with beautiful student drawings of wrens engraved the roof panels were proudly placed in oak trees. Students also worked on restoring an area where non-native eucalyptus trees robbed sunlight to a once thriving oak forest. Students planted acorns that they had given a “float test” to ensure that an insect had not eaten the oak seed inside. Two oak trees were also planted thanks to the donated by Pardee Tree Nursery. Ron Forster joined Conservancy Board members Tim Costanzo and Jeff Swenerton, Conservancy Land Manager Hannah Walchak, and docent Charlotte Varvel with her granddaughter Michaela Chambers, lead investigations of the bluebird nests in last years’ boxes, a beehive that had taken up residence in one of the owl boxes, and animal footprints on the banks of Escondido Creek.
Can a first grader make a difference? Just ask a first grader at High Tech Elementary and you will get an enthusiastic “Yes!” and a lot of information about wrens and their project.
On an additional note, Shelley Glenn Lee was honored last year for her work with her students with a National Environmental Protection Agency Educator Award and we are honored to welcome her as the member of the Conservancy Education Advisory Committee advising Education Manager Simon Breen on our programs. Congratulation Shelley and thank you for your support of the Conservancy.