How to avoid cats if you’re a migrating bird, and other lessons from Classrooms Across Borders

by Stacy Moore and Dionné Mej̨ía

April 2019

Click to read this blog in Spanish

As part of IAE’s Classrooms Across Borders project, dual language (Spanish-English) immersion students from Lincoln and Garfield Elementary, schools located in Corvallis, Oregon, recently participated in a suite of outdoor science activities as part of all-day field trips to nearby Bald Hill Farm.  These field trips are the hands-on component of classroom lessons about ecology and birds that took place earlier this spring. The project is a partnership between IAE, Marys River Watershed Council and Greenbelt Land Trust.

“This was one of the best outdoor experiences for our 3rd graders this year. It was even more hands-on than our trip to Oregon Coast Aquarium,” commented Garfield teacher Elvira Huidor-Dever.  “I appreciate many of the lessons being taught in Spanish, and the variety of activities supporting our work in the classroom,” said Garfield teacher Ruben Sandoval.  IAE appreciates all the volunteers who helped teach at field stations during the field trips, and for ongoing support from Gray Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust Environmental Leadership for Youth Program, Trust Management Services, Corvallis School District and private donations.

Activities during the field days included an outdoor interactive field game to learn firsthand about hazards facing migrating avian species. Some students dressed up in bird costumes then had to run a “migration” course, navigating several of the major threats for migrating birds, including cats, windows, powerlines and wind turbines.  Students then discussed ways to provides essential habitat and protection for our native birds.


Volunteer birds / pájaros voluntarios

Students try binoculars / los estudiantes prueban binoculares

Studying invertebrates / estudiando invertebrados

Field days reinforced in-class lessons / días de campo reforzados lecciones en clase

Students also took part in a bird identification station where they learned the correct way to use binoculars, and identified birds such as Steller’s jays, red tailed hawks, turkey vultures and a Cooper’s hawk. They also planted milkweed and iris to enhance bird and butterfly habitat, and got to examine real animal skins and skulls to learn about animal adaptations.

Classrooms Across Borders is part of the larger Meyer Memorial Trust Willamette River-Rio Laja Twinning Project, pairing or ‘twinning’ the Willamette River watershed with the Rio Laja watershed basin, located roughly 300 kilometers northeast of Mexico City. These watersheds share similar critical habitats such as wetlands, oak woodlands, and floodplain forests that support populations of birds migrating between the two countries. The students in Corvallis and Mexico share artwork and what they’ve learned about migrating birds and their habitats. This project is a cultural and community exchange in which ecological concerns overcome borders. Other partners in the Twinning project include Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Oregon Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCS), Instituto Tecnolȯgico Superior de Irapuato (ITESI), and Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation & Development. To learn more about the Willamette-Laja Twinning Project, click here.

Buho dibujado por un estudiante en México/ owl drawn by a student in Mexico

Escuela Miguel en Guanajuato, Mexico

Estudiantes en México jugando un juego de vida silvestre / students in Mexico playing a wildlife game

Migration challenges to birds / Desafíos migratorios a las aves

Posted in Ecological Education Program, Uncategorized.