Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Day is On Its Way: Let Bay Week Begin!

Bay Week.  An Eagle Cove School Tradition every year that runs the full week that holds Earth Day.  Our dedication to the Bay makes perfect sense given our school touches the Magothy River on two sides and has a view of the Chesapeake Bay across the causeway right off our property. 

Bay Week... a full week of eco-centric activities based not only around the Chesapeake Bay and its nature/wildlife, but also the ways we can help the environment.  It's a part of who we are as a Maryland Green School.
To start off Eagle Cove's 2010 Bay Week, today we had two special guest speakers:  Kathleen Woods and Jennifer Keats Curtis.  Their combined focus was akin to a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup:  2 great tastes that taste great together!  Kathleen Woods, one of the 81 certified wildlife rehabilitators in the state of Maryland and the director of the Phoenix Wildlife Center, brought a Great Horned Owl.  The Great Horned Owl is Maryland's largest of its 8 variety of owls.  Kathy came to know this owl through her rehabilitation center after he was injured.  Children in grades PreK to 5 got a small group, first-hand view of this statuesque bird, who has the power to lift 50 pound of prey with his talons.  Students also got an opportunity to see a recovering baby opposum who was only a handful of weeks old. 
 While some classes were taking turns visiting Kathy Woods, others were visiting with author Jennifer Keats Curtis.  Jennifer, a fellow Marylander, is the editor-at-large for Maryland Life Magazine.  In addition to that, she routinely visits elementary schools to give writing workshops with an eco-flair  We've been fortunate enough to have Jennifer a part of our Bay Week for at least the last 3 years.  Jennifer shared all sorts of pictures at the start of her presentation--not only of the children's picture books she's written, but of many of the animals she's met through Kathy Woods.  It is from her experience with Kathy Woods (and Kathy's animal rehabilitations) that Jennifer wrote "Baby Owl Rescue" (2009).  This realistic fiction book shares the experience of a brother and sister who find a baby Great Horned Owl who has fallen from the nest.  Their rehabilitator mom helps show them what she needs to do to reunite the baby with its mama.  Jennifer shared the book with the kids in the second half of her presentation, and quizzed them about how realistic her story details were.  Lots of questions (and the desire to tell many a-story!) followed.  Some of the youngest students nearly climbed in her lap (which she told me was a sure sign of a good presentation), and the older students asked a hearty helping of questions both about her books, owls, and how long Jennifer's been a writer.  Fun facts about owls and activities "For Creative Minds" fill the last four pages of this book.
Important lessons came out of the day:

1. Spring unfortunately is a busy time for wildlife rehabbers, due in part to incidents happening to the youngest animals, new to the world.  

2.  It is against the law to have a wild animal as a pet.  People who do try this ultimately take the "wild" out of the "wildlife."  The animals become habituated to being OUT of the wildlife, and then cannot safely return to the wilderness because they become overly dependent on humans.

3. Baby animals don't always need our help!  We may think they're abandoned, yet they might be under the watchful eye of their parents (or they may only check in with each other a few times a day).  Best thing you can do is sit back and observe, and if you think an animal is in need of help, then contact someone at a rehabilitation center.
4.  That apple core you're done with when you're driving along, then toss out the window, might be the very thing that brings an animal into a rehab center.  Even if you have a Major League arm and send it far from the road (because it's biodegradable, right?!), the coast isn't always clear.  The little mouse or chipmunk that goes for it might be at a safe distance from the road, but the birds of prey that go for those little critters might not be so safe while they're swooping in for their meal.  Many of the owls currently at the Phoenix Wildlife Center were victims of being hit by motor vehicles. 
For more information, check out....
  • Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Referral Directory (to find a rehabber near you) 
Pictures from today's experience, the Eagle Cove logo, and book covers from Snapshots from my camera!

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