In November, AmeriCorps member Whisper Moore led an afterschool group from Stephens-Lee Recreation Center to experience birding at the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary in North Asheville. In a previous afterschool session, Whisper had introduced students to migratory birds with the #GreatMigrationChallenge game. For this field trip, Bethany Sheffer and Simon Thompson of the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society chapter joined us to share their expertise.
Bethany and Simon gave a brief lesson on birding and showed students how to use binoculars by spotting a particular point on a sign. Then they headed out together to spot some resident birds that stay at the Sanctuary year-round. As they ventured over to look at some Canada Geese across the waterway, one student exclaimed “Look at the mountains!”
“While talking to the students, quite a few of them told me that they don’t often get to experience the outdoors much more than playgrounds,” recalls Whisper. “They don’t often have the opportunity to really venture out into nature even though it’s in their backyards.”
Once the students were deep into the bird Sanctuary, they came across a blue heron. Many of them had never seen one before, let alone as close up as this one. “I didn’t know those were real,” said one student. Then, the blue heron took off and the students were able to see its full wingspan in flight. It was the highlight of the trip! At the conclusion of the outing another girl asked if they could all come out to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary again.
“Coming out here and seeing the expressions on these kids is why I do what I do,” says Whisper. “I love that I get to help foster that sense of wonder and amazement at the natural environment.”
Whisper’s position as Project Conserve AmeriCorps Communication and Community Engagement Member with SAHC helps support our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. In this position Whisper leads outings for groups and connects the greater community with land and outdoor spaces they may not otherwise get to experience.
“We are working to have a more diverse staff and engaging with more people in the communities we serve,” adds Whisper. “Organizing field trips like this is one way we can help all people enjoy outdoor recreation.”
We are grateful to Simon and Bethany for sharing their knowledge and interacting with students on this field trip.