“Expecting” Great Things in 2016

 

Below is the article I recently submitted for my organization’s winter newsletter, looking back on the old year and peeking ahead at the new.

Quick — name something that flies!

The first thing that comes to mind might be birds — and naturally so, since is is a newsletter is from Detroit Audubon, and a love for birds and their kin is something we all share. You’d also be correct in saying that bugs, bats, butterflies, flying fish, flying squirrels, airplanes and balloons all fly — but nothing flies like the thing I am about to mention.

What incredibly fast and furious flyer am I talking about? … Time, of course!

Time has flown by (faster than a Peregrine Falcon doing a 240 mile-per-hour dive bomb) during the past few months I’ve spent as Program Coordinator. While it sometimes still feels like I just started, I also can’t believe how much I was able to help us accomplish in 2015 — coordinating a number of programs and events, building up partnerships, and reaffirming our place in the regional bird conservation network. We expect even greater things for 2016.

On a more personal note, more programs and partnerships are not the only things we are “expecting” in 2016. I am both happy  to announce that my husband and I are expecting our first child in January — which is why I will be officially stepping down from the Program Coordinator position in mid-December. Because I believe in our mission and want to continue helping Detroit Audubon grow, I look forward to re-joining Detroit Audubon as the Education Committee Co-chair sometime early next year.

It was a pleasure to spend the past few months working for such a wonderful organization, and consider it a real gift to have helped advance its mission during this special time in my life.

Below are some of the programs I was proud to have been involved with during Fall 2015. (For Summer 2015 programs I was involved with, see the Summer 2015 Flyway.)

Highlights from Fall 2015

Flying Wild Educator’s Workshop (Oct. 22 & 29)

Kathleen Dougherty of Oakland County Parks and I co-hosted this two-part workshop for educators interested in learning about the Flying Wild curriculum (published by the Council for Environmental Education). Eleven educators completed both sessions and received Flying Wild certification. In addition to co-leading the program, I presented about Detroit Audubon and recruited Detroit-area educators interested in helping out at future Detroit Audubon events.

Bird-friendly Gardening Presentation in Southfield (Oct. 28)

I worked with Barb Klimkowski, a Master Gardener and proponent of bird-friendly gardening based in Southfield, to create a presentation about birds and bird-friendly gardening which she delivered to about 30 people at the Southfield Public Library. I followed up with a short presentation on Detroit Audubon, our recent work, local birding hotspots, and more. The local cable channel recorded both presentations and will be formatting them in such a way that they can be included in the library’s video collection.

Family Fun Day: Fall in Love with Birds (Oct. 29)

This was the first of our seasonal “family-friendly” events presented at Gabriel-Richard Park on the Detroit riverfront. The program featured: 1) The presentation of a Pewabic tile to the Georgia Reid family, 2) Sharing of stories about Georgia Reid and urban birds, and 3) Fall bird crafts, including make-your-own owl masks, paper hawks (an activity that teaches hawk ID), and bird habitat bingo. Only about 10  people showed up  likely due to the cold rain that morning.

Midtown Bird Walk (Oct. 30)

Six people joined us for our second walk through Midtown Detroit which highlighted not only observed urban birds but also neighborhood features. The walk began with an introduction to urban bird ID and citizen science and ended with a discussion on what we saw and upcoming events.

Elmwood Cemetery Walks (Sep. 19 & Oct. 17)

Leonard Weber and Joan Capuano (Elmwood’s Executive Director) led two autumn walks through the cemetery this fall, highlighting both birds and site features. Note: Four more dates for 2016 have been scheduled (see calendar on Detroit Audubon website; will also be posted on Elmwood’s site). Volunteer walk leaders will need to be recruited.

Boo at the Zoo (Oct. 31)

Detroit Audubon and EMEAC teamed up to co-staff a table at this Belle Isle Nature Zoo event. Over 200 people (families with children) engaged our table which highlighted owls and owl activities. Over 50 children stopped to create an owl mask using laminated pictures of real owls as inspiration. It was one of the more popular tables at the event.

Looking Ahead

For many things in nature, winter is a time of quietude and dormancy. During the colder months, resident birds conserve energy by reducing their activity level and relying on fat reserves acquired during fall. Squirrels do the same, hunkering down and living off of stored fat in their oak-leaf nests. Trees slow down their metabolism too, bare branches keeping new leaves tight in the bud until the spring thaw. Winter seems to bring about a general slowing down or suspension of most functioning in the natural world, if not deep sleep itself!

Well, let me tell you — we will be anything but dormant at Detroit Audubon this winter! We have a lot planned for 2016, and there is no better time than wintertime for organizations like us to prepare for all we have in store.

A Year of Birds on the Detroit Riverfront

Detroit Audubon and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy are partnering in presenting year-round, family-friendly birding events on the Detroit Riverfront. A year of 2016 dates have been set for February 6, April 29/30, July 29/30, and Oct. 22, each with a different theme (to be announced).

Enhancing Bird Exhibits at the Detroit Children’s Museum

I am in the process of working with staff at the Detroit Children’s Museum to create a “blueprint” for our future together. Together, we conceived of projects at three levels. Easy: They would like us to create ID cards for unlabeled birds in the museum. Medium: They would like us to create an “indoor birdwatching” lesson plan that engages visitors with museum birds. Hard: They would like to co-host a special event/fundraiser gala in which they can showcase the museum’s first-edition Audubon prints.

Launching Bird Education Programs at the Detroit Children’s Hospital

Dr. Bonita Stanton, member of our Education Committee and Vice Dean of Research at the Wayne State University Medical School, has connected us to hospital staff who have expressed an interest in having us conducting monthly bird programs there. We are currently in the process of filling out the requisite forms — hoping to host our first hospital program this winter!

More Grassland Bird Monitoring & Restoration at the Metroparks

Detroit Audubon and the Huron-Clinton Metroparks partnered this summer in an effort to monitor birds at Oakwoods. We are following up with a Grassland Stewardship Workday in which volunteers will collect seeds and remove invasive shrubs from the same locations that were monitored; the workday took place on Nov. 13.

Partnership with Saving Birds thru Habitat

“Saving Birds Thru Habitat” (SBTH)  is a non-profit organization based in Northern Michigan. For the past few years, SBTH has been sponsoring birding activities for a class of middle school students in Detroit with the help of a retired area teacher, Dave Watkins. At the Midwest Birding Symposium, Jim Bull and I met with Dave and the Executive of SBTH Director Kay Charter to talk about a potential partnership. Some ideas are currently in the pipeline; more to be announced soon.

Website Upgrades and Move to New Host

I am currently working with a professional web development team in Ann Arbor in moving our website and email accounts off of our current host Earthlink and onto the Ann Arbor-based A2Hosting. The team has also completed a beautiful redesign our website which, when launched, will have features that enable users to register for field trips, make donations, become a member, and more. I’ve also been working with web development student and Detroit Audubon volunteer Shelley Richards in harvesting all of the old website content for permanent archiving. Looking forward to launching the upgraded site by the New Year!

If you are interested in getting involved with any of these projects, we’d love to hear from you! Reach out to us at daprogramcoordinator(at)detroitaudubon.org, or see our website: www.detroitaudubon.org.

May you and your families — as well as the birds and nature we work so hard to protect — have a peaceful and blessed 2016!

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