Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Roots & Shoots

I started a local Roots & Shoots group called Rio Grande Roots & Shoots. We are a small group of homeschooling families that get together twice a month to learn about our environment, animals and community, and to do child appropriate service projects based on what we learn. So far since we started in September we have held a Peace Picnic for International Peace Day, and built our Peace Dove to fly at events. We were invited to go to Santa Fe with our dove and fly it during a presentation Dr. Goodall was giving about her experiences and about why she founded Roots & Shoots, after which we were able to meet her and have the kids pictures taken with her and our dove. We had an educational presentation from HawkWatch and learned about their program. We created a poster campaign where the kids each made a poster about HawkWatch and we hung them around town to promote their efforts. This project made it into the international Roots & Shoots newsletter put out by the Jane Goodall Institute. We then focussed on learning about how to be a Household environmentalist. This was a large project involving learning about all the ways we can make a difference just in how we live our lives and the choices we make. We made eco-friendly household cleaners and painted new recycling bins for the Rio Grande Nature Center as a service project. We then were able to meet with members of the Wildlife Refuge and the Rio Grande Zoo to learn about the Mexican Gray Wolf (my son is named after these guys) and how they became so endangered and what is being done to help them now. We also got to observe the wolves at the zoo and learn about how the wolf restoration program works from the zoo. We have turned our focus to winter birding this month and had a large bird project day where we made a lot of feeders from recycled objects, bagel feeders, garland feeders and built some small feeders from little wooden kits. Thanks to Wild Birds Unlimited we were able to learn about the birds we can expect to see in our neighborhoods and what kindsof seed they like. We also gave each child the forms to observe their feeders for 10-20 minutes and record their visitors, when they do this they will get a Junior Naturalist certificate from Wild Birds Unlimited. We then went on a winter bird hike to find
birds and learn about how to keep a Nature Journal. Its been a great year and some wonderful familieshave been participating. In the coming months we are going to do our Bosque Clean-Up project to collect trash from the Rio Grande Forest and learn about human impact on the area, we will learn about our local CSA Organic Farm and about how living and buying organic can impact not only our helath but our environment and community. We will be having a celebration party for our years efforts, and taking some summer hikes. I love being a part of it and I really enjoy having the kids feel empowered by what they can do. Now everytime we go to the Nature Center they will see their recycling bins and feel a sense of pride and ownership for the center. That is exactly how I want them to feel. A personal connection.

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