BirdSmart’s Digital Education Program

The Cause

The Beaverhill Bird Observatory’s (BBO) New Digital version of our BirdSmart Education program will partner with schools across Alberta during the continuous challenges of COVID-19, to provide engaging and educational interactive webinars to students about the importance of bird conservation and climate change. All of our presentations are tailored to match the Alberta Learning Curriculum (from Pre-kindergarten to Grade 12) to help teachers integrate our webinars into their lesson plans. By bringing a live owl or falcon into the webinar, and by teaching students about the birds they can see in their own backyards, our message on the importance of taking personal action to protect birds and reduce climate change is more impactful.

In the last 50 years, North America has seen its bird numbers decline by 29%, that’s a loss of 3 billion birds! This is hugely concerning as birds play vital roles in our ecosystems and act as bio-indicators, informing us when something is wrong with the environment. Many of the reasons for these declines are due to human linked causes (cat predation, windows strikes, pesticides, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, climate change, etc.), and by focusing our presentations on primarily younger audiences, we will help shift attitudes at a generational level of how our society views and treats bird conservation and climate change.

Participants become more appreciative of birds and connected to the natural world after our presentations. By providing students with solutions to many of the problems our birds face, explaining what climate change is in an age appropriate level and how they can reduce their carbon footprint (walking, bicycling, saying no! to one-time-use-plastics, turning off the lights, supporting renewable energy, etc.), we inspire individuals to take action in their own lives to reduce their carbon emissions and help protect our planet.

During the 2019/2020 winter prior to COVID-19 shutting down schools, we had reached 15,031 students and 4,288 adults with our in-person BirdSmart education program. As we prepare for the 2020/2021 school year, we are excited to launch a New Digital version of this program, with interactive webinars, worksheets and quizzes, directly into hundreds of digital classrooms across the province with the support of the Field Law Community Fund.

Who Will it Benefit?

By inspiring youth and communities to make small changes in their lives to help protect birds and reduce their carbon footprint, we are helping to change the way our society looks at how we impact the natural world, our growing consumption rates and our carbon emissions. This in turn benefits the environment, our planet and the human race. We hope that some of these students will be inspired to follow careers in biology, environment, and global sciences, to continue protecting and educating others on how we can all do our part to protect the natural world and reduce climate change.

As well, by learning about the work we do at the BBO, people will be drawn to the bird observatory and benefit from the fresh air, free exercise, and mental health boost of time spent in nature. We encourage people to find alternative modes of transportation like cycling to improve their health and reduce their carbon footprint. We also encourage individuals to go outside and look at birds on their own, whether they live in the city or country side.