• Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Respond to one or more of the following questions that resonates with you.
      • Can you remember a moment that sparked your interest in nature?
      • What are your favorite memories of outdoor childhood play?
      • What are your goals for spending more time outdoors with a child?
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Elise
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      0 My very first memories and connection with nature started when I was a child, my family and I took daily family trips to our local Metro Park in Columbus, Blendon Woods. Even when I visit the park today I am immediately transported back in time to walking the trails, visiting the nature center, or playing on the playground with my sister as a child. The smell and the crunch of the leaves floods me with nostalgia. It feels like a warm embrace being at that park. Even visiting the zoo every week as young child connected me to nature. I wondered and learned about the various animals and the consistent trips made me feel connected to the animals getting to see them often. These things encompass my favorite memories of outdoor childhood play. As a first grade teacher, I wish for my students to develop the same connection and embrace I feel from Blendon Woods and the zoo. No matter how I am feeling, visiting these places always lifts me up and reminds me that nature is always present for us. This started because of my visits there as a young child. I worry as a teacher that because of technology, my students may lose that connection early on with nature. I pray and hope I can connect them to nature so they grow to love it as much as me. Me & Nature Below...:) unnamed 0
    • Ceci
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Yo vivia  en la ciudad  me intrigaba saber como era  estar conectada con la naturaleza  hasta que fui adulta pude hacerlo  verlos árboles los ríos el amane cer el canto de la avez   sus colores  verlos volar es algo maravilloso Que  un niño aprenda a amar y respetar  la naturaleza y el maravilloso mundo dela avez
    • Erin
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      When thinking about my love for nature, I immediately think back to my childhood as to where my love stemmed. From the time I was a baby to starting kindergarten, my nanny would take my twin sister and I to the metro park 5 minutes from our house almost every day. It was there that I fell in love with the leaves, animals, the sounds of trees swaying, and just the smell of "outdoors". I have fond memories of running in the meadows and walking the nature trails. Aside from constantly going to the park, my family were regular visitors to the Columbus Zoo. It was there that I learned early on the importance of conservation and protecting all living things big and small. Often as a child, I would have rather been outside riding my bike and roaming the woods than playing dress-up or dolls inside. These memories bring me nothing but pure happiness. As a teacher, my goal is to guide students in fostering this same love for nature, animals, and the outdoors. During this school year, I simply hope to be outside with the students more and let them LEARN while doing so. I want them to ask questions, evoke their senses, and conduct investigations. IMG_7674 IMG_7675 Blendon Woods Metro Park (Columbus, Ohio)
    • Patrick
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I spent my entire youth in scouting, from first grade until I graduated college.  All that time inspired a love of nature, but the most specific moment was the first summer I worked at a scouting camp.  I was assigned to work in the nature lodge which is where I first encountered nature as something to be studied analytically instead of just played in and appreciated.  My favorite outdoor memory is the stupidest game my brother and I ever devised.  We got bows and arrows for Christmas one year.  We decided that shooting the arrows straight up in the air and hiding under laundry baskets like turtles was the best way to use our gifts.  Our parents confiscated our bows less than one hour after we opened them.  Now that my son is in preschool, I've been taking him outside a few times a month to do a bit of birdwatching or simply playing in the park.  I'm looking forward to learning how to get more out of our trips outside, especially when the weather starts to warm up in a few months.
    • Until I was in 5th grade, I grew up in a rural area. Since my parents, weren't helicopter types, my siblings and I spent a lot of time outside running all over the 2 acres we lived on, as well as climbing over fences to explore areas and fields nearby. One vivid memory I have is of climbing onto the roots of a fallen tree and looking down and seeing dozens of tiny snakes all around my feet! I must have walked onto a snake nest of some sort and I wish I could go back and look more closely at the snakes to ID them. I also remember the bright wings of the Red-winged Blackbirds and the Woodchuck the lived in our compost pile. We had a feral cat that lived outside and occasionally got food scraps and enjoyed being petted. Many of our neighbors had animals, such as cows, pigs, chickens and one couple even bred show pigeons! Whenever I complained of being bored, my parents would say, "Why don't you go outside?" Great advice!
    • I don't think I have a specific moment that ignited my passion for nature, as I was very fortunate as child to have had countless experiences enjoying the natural world near me. As a kid, I loved learning about birds and other animals that I would come across at my local beaches, parks, and various other locations I visited as my family went about our daily activities. With that being said, I am very glad that my experiences made me the nature loving adult I am today. My goals for this class are to learn more about the natural world and find ways to help others connect with or enjoy nature as much as I do!
    • Natasha
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I grew up exploring the beaches of my hometown in Portugal, every summer, the intertidal pools became my refuge, and together with my father we explored every water pool, searched the rocks for starfishes, sea urchins, octopuses, fish and algae, these are the best memories I keep from summer. Quality time with my dad, some sunburns (ups) and lots of lessons learned. That, the wildlife shows on tv and a book offered by my uncle on nature were the main pillars that cemented my desire to work with nature, I followed the dream and I am a biologist nowadays :) Now, i have a 3 year old son, and i want to share time with him in nature, so that he can learn more about it,  he can respect it and realise he's part of something greater and amazing.
    • Christine
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Faith: When I fed the baby robins that nested in my playground tree house. Then that continued when we found the baby Cedar Waxwing and raised it and she went off with a flock of her own kind and we named her Stormy. Mamma: My first spark for nature I have to say I cannot remember I feel like I have always been drawn to the outdoors and especially the wildlife. Faith and Mamma: When it is a nice enough day we make a point to go out side together and look for wildlife and simply enjoy and take more notice of the goings on around us as we are outside. Lastly, when we go outside we sit down in the grass and close our eyes and listen.
    • nina
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I can remember so many memories outside from a very early age up to today. Some of my most life changing moments occurred in nature and I think that's why I've recently changed my career from crime victims advocacy toward interpretive naturalism and conservation. It brings me immense joy to explore new places, get real familiar with the same spaces, and use all my senses along with my whole body to engage with others. Spending time as a child in Yellowstone, building kinship with bison and friends, experiencing a totally different ecosystem on two separate school trips Assisting in feeding and caring for animals on a farm for a week with family on the peninsula in WA Raising salmon from eggs to smolt annually and have a big celebration during their release back into the wild Climbing and running on huge logs and fallen trees for long stretches at Point Defiance in the 90's circus camp on Vashon island in fields, camping for weeks in the summer Backpacking the Olympic coast and North Cascades Swimming in Lake Michigan, the pacific ocean, the Puget sound, the Atlantic ocean from the eastern US and South Africa Stopping off at a rest stop in Utah to climb some steep stairs and being rewarded with a phenomenal Playing house with friends in the yard and making "food" from soil and dirt and rocks and plant debris Mussel grubbing in the Sangamon River Long walks in the snow during the winter in Anchorage Watching over 60,000 sandhill cranes awake at 5-6am in the morning during migration in Nebraska My 3 years as a forest preschool teacher, experiencing a heightened level of adventure, curiosity and intimacy with the land
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I am the oldest girl and second oldest of eight children, six brothers one sister. It  seems like most of my childhood was taking care of my youngest brother. He was born in the fall and I spent hours pushing his carriage around the maple lined streets. I think I had the largest fall leaf collection in town. For years my parents would find colorful leaves pressed in big books. I never hesitated to take him on a walk. It was my break from all the other responsibilities I had. Every summer we would travel to see relatives on the east coast and go to the b each. Again for me it was a break from all my responsibilities. Playing with my cousins,  being repelled by the sea weed, cutting my feet on the barnacles, catching horseshoe  crabs  was  heaven to me.
    • Vicki
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I grew up in a family that traveled and lived abroad quite a bit. In several places - Japan, Germany, Austria and Cyprus I had lots of access to nature. I loved playing outside both alone and with friends, and often had the opportunity to explore forests and beaches. While my parents were not particularly knowledgeable about nature, they always encouraged curiosity and helped find answers to questions. Later in life a close friend introduced me to birding and accompanying her helped foster my interest in birds. Our daughters still talk about the times I would brake and (hopefully) pull to the side of the road to observe and identify a bird. Now, I tease the four grandchildren that once they're three they can no longer just say bird, we have to identify it! They're getting pretty good now that they are 5-8. We also hike a lot and pause to identify possible nature mysteries - what happened here is often the question. In this way we have learned about nurse logs, for instance. My goal with our grandchildren is to foster our relationships, encourage curiosity and observation skills, and to lead them to understanding of the importance of respecting and protecting our natural world.
    • Alison
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      12555290995_90531f3fcf_q I grew up exploring the beaches and sea life on Vancouver Island in the summer where my Great Aunt lived. It is my favourite place and cemented my connection and love of nature.
    • Matthew
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      A monumental memory was a 90 mile hike in New Mexico when I was 14 at Philmont Scout Ranch. We were on the last day of the hike, starting the final push at 3am under the light of the moon and stars. We were trekking to see the sun crest over the Tooth of Time. As we summited a smaller vantage point with a view of the Tooth of Time the morning mist drifted over a nearby meadow where an elk grazed. The moon, full in washed oranges and purples set above, slowly falling from the night sky. Turning to view the pointy peaks of the Tooth, the sun peeked over the horizon, a jubilant crimson, growing in its expanse every moment. The sun and moon greeted each other for a moment as one rose and the other set. The shadows skittered across the rocks and crevaces below us, cascading like river rapids until finally the world around us was awash in a warm glow of morning light raising the birds and wildlife around us to a new day. This is one of many memories I have as a child, but it has stuck with me so vividly for so many years. The beauty in our activity, the world around us, and that moment shared with others has left such a large imprint on my life as to the awe that Nature affords. I wish and hope that my kids find a similar connection of their own that offers a call to be outside, to pause, to repsect, and share the wonders of the outdoors.
    • Hayley
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      As a kid, I just really enjoyed spending time outside climbing trees and exploring new areas. I loved seeing how things looked different from up in a tree and I enjoyed feeling secure sitting on the branches. It felt like a whole different world. I hope that I can give other children opportunities to discover and explore new worlds in nature.
    • Joe
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Seeing fish from my father's shoulders while he was wading in a lake in northern Michigan. Favorite memories are the sounds of cicadas, the smells of summertime, the secret hiding places in bushes in the park, and the joy felt while outside. Goals: I want children to experience this joy. I want those things that bring me joy to have an advocate after I'm gone from here. I want to experience this joy with them.
      • grete
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        Hi Joe!  Totally agree with you! In my case it was my mom who helped us notice the details of nature: a hovering hawk, the sweet smell of jazmin, birds caring for their feathers. And these small teaching moments have stayed with me longer than any textbook-taught theories I had to listen to in a classroom.  All children should be encouraged to observe nature! -G
    • Margaret
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I grew up on a large farm in Queensland, Australia. We had dairy cattle, crops and some rough country where our beef cattle lived. I walked two miles to a one-teacher school for 8 years, and being the eldest, I was in charge of caring for my younger siblings when we all walked together. We would watch for snakes (three poisonous snakes on our property), watch out for Magpies in nesting season as the adult birds routinely attack any person or animal that gets too close to their nest, and notice the change in the seasons as different plants flowered during the year, and we were always on the lookout for koalas high up in the eucalyptus trees. Both my parents were knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the area, and we could all identify the birds, reptiles and different plants on the farm. As I grew up without internet, I had many magazines and books about things that children could do. One magazine showed how to be a part of the Christmas Bird Count, so when I turned ten, I wrote for the form that I would fill in to be a part of the count. I filled in the usual Kookaburra, Magpie, Double-barred Finch, Parrot species etc as I sat on the edge of our creek. Then I noticed a bird I had never seen before - it had a black body, with bright golden yellow on its head and back. That night I was describing what I'd seen to my parents. They said it sounded like a Regent Bowerbird, but I must be wrong because "we don't get those here". So, in my 20s, I moved to the US and have lived here ever since. On a visit to the family farm when I was in my 50s, my father mentioned that he'd seen a Regent Bowerbird in a tree in our creek. I shouted, "I told you so!"  My parents laughed heartily and said they were expecting me to say that. It was a running joke for the rest of their lives. I'm so grateful that nature was such an important part of my childhood. I have two grandchildren in the US, and three in Australia, and I love spending time outdoors and finding out what they are noticing in nature. It's been three years since we visited Australia and I can't wait to try out some strategies to make the grandchildren there aware of the wonderful world they have outside their door, and ways that they can protect that wonderful land for the future.
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      One of my fondest earliest memories is of walking with my mom in the mountains. She appreciated my awe for all things around us, and appreciated the natural propensity kids have for noticing/observing nature... being delighted by things like butterflies, sunlight shining on tree branches, and flower petals. I loved playing in the sandbox, moving the sand around with shovels and buckets, and making "pancakes" for my family. I have been very fortunate to spend a lot of time outdoors with my 10-year old daughter, and am now trying to learn to immerse kids in nature at my school where I'm the lower school STEAM teacher. I hope for kids to feel emotional wellness, and a natural interest in science and a love for all forms of life around them.
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      My family had very bad allergies and a certain aversion to getting dirty when I was growing up. However, we did take these epic drives to look at the scenery throughout the Midwest. One of my childhood memories was visiting my grandmother in southern Illinois and going to a wildlife refuge where the geese were present in the thousands. I remember how loud the geese were and how powerful I felt when I ran toward them and so many started honking and flew up and around and landed elsewhere. I remember being in awe at the magic of such a huge group of geese coordinating a flight together as if they were one piece of fabric waving in the wind.
    • Ditsha
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      My family and I would always go camping during the summer and those were some of my favourite trips as well. When I was younger, I remember catching butterflies, going on hikes, stargazing or swimming at the beach. I would always be doing some type of activity outdoors. Now I find spending time in nature more calming and healing. It's therapeutic and helps me connect better with the outdoors and myself. Every camping trip was memorable and I always gained something out of it.
    • Angelique Scarpa
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      One of my favorite childhood nature memories is when I climbed a tree that had branches that formed a nice backrest and I was so comfortable sitting in the tree that I fell asleep! The branches cradled me nicely, and I didn't fall out. Another favorite memory is the first time I saw an Osprey in real life after looking at its picture in a Field Guide many, many times. The Osprey was so much more beautiful in person than in the Field Guide. osprey practice
    • Bernadette
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child playing with my brother.  I don't think we really explored nature or thought much about it.  We just liked playing outdoors.  I didn't become interested in nature exploration until my son was born.  From the time he was a week old, I use to sit outside on the swingset with him and point out all the birds, trees, acorns, etc.  He may not have understood my words, but we bonded over our time outside, and he grew up to love nature (and he had an excellent vocabulary at a very early age).  A few years ago, a close friend of mine introduced me to birding, and I instantly became hooked.  I have started taking my fifth graders on nature walks to watch for birds and just sit peacefully in our outdoor classroom. It has been a wonderful experience for them (and for me) to unplug and share that time outdoors.  I chose to take this course to learn more ways to make my outdoor classroom time more educational and enjoyable for my students.
    • Melanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      My grandmother and grandfather fed birds. My grandmother was also a gardener. She always pointed out birds and squirrels and the cool things they were doing. She also introduced me to some really cool wildflowers. To my day, Ghost Pipe is my favorite plant. We discovered it near our cabin together when I was 8 or 9. I am 59 now and I go searching for it every year. I was lucky enough to live near the woods. The woods were my playground. We had paths, places named, streams to splash in. Being outside was a part of my life. One of my favorite things was to catch little toadlets in the spring and make habitats for them. Just for a few days. Then I'd let them go again. I am currently an elementary school librarian. My goal this year is to foster an interest in nature through books.  
    • Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      When I was a kid, we went on an annual vacation in Canada along the shore of Lake Huron. We stayed in cabins and had meals family-style with other guests who stayed in the cabins on the property. The owners were a family who had children the same ages as my brother and me. Their daughter became a long-time friend of mine and she and I would go down to the wetland area on the property hunting and catching frogs for hours at a time. It is one of many beautiful memories of nature play I grew up with!
    • Kathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      I think my interest in nature was sparked by family travel mostly to the mountains of North Carolina. My favorite memories of outdoor play was just being free to explore my neighborhood, not really worrying about safety. Riding my bicycle all around - it truly was a carefree time. My goals are two part: as a grandparent I want to instill in my grandson a deep appreciation and love for nature. As an environmental educator I want to find more ways to engage children with nature especially those who don't get much opportunity to spend time outdoors.