More than 150 North Fork elementary school students recently learned how to “be a good egg” and become stewards of our unique local environment, creating hand-drawn signs with information about local wildlife that now decorate two local beaches.
Students from Cutchogue East, Peconic Community School, Southold Elementary and Girl Scout Troop 1971 participated in a Group for the East End program that teaches children about the birds that nest, feed and rest on the beaches of Long Island every spring and summer.
“It was a beautiful coming together of the arts and a lesson in conservation,” said Christine Tylee, stewardship coordinator for Group For The East End.
Students learned about shorebird biology, why and how we protect these birds, the threats they face, and how students and their families can help.
Several bird species of special concern – including American Oystercatchers, Least Terns, and Piping Plovers – populate local shores during nesting season. They are species of special concern to conservationists – and now our “Good Egg” students, too – because their populations are in decline.
Tylee heaped praise on the project as a “rewarding educational experience for all involved – including teachers – because it connected children with their natural surroundings.
“When students were shown footage of adult piping plovers and their hatchlings, the students’ faces lit up!”
She said she was especially pleased because “this is what every environmental educator hopes for in the next generation of wildlife ambassadors.”
After completing the program’s lessons, students designed signs to be displayed at local beaches where the birds actively nest. The signs proved how much the children learned about the importance of protecting these shore birds.
It was a difficult decision for Tylee and Aaron Virgin, vice president of the Group, but they were able to choose 14 student designs that combined cute drawings with creative messages and had them professionally printed.
The signs are now posted at Causeway Beach Park District (Cutchogue) and Breakwater Beach Park District (Mattituck). These brightly colored, highly visible signs remind beach-goers that they need to watch out for those well-camouflaged birds and their nests while visiting the North Fork beaches this year and in years to come.
Southold Elementary School science teacher Russ Karsten, thought the program was simply awesome.
“The ‘Be a Good Egg’ presentations in the classroom were really well received by the students,” Karsten Most of our local kids have a lot of experience on the beaches observing wildlife. ‘Be a Good Egg’ helped them identify the wildlife, and discuss the importance of preserving the local ecosystem.” In the spirit of educating kids by using real-world problems to solve, “the sign contest brought the students’ attention to a community problem and allowed them to work with a local organization on managing a solution. All the while they were working on their communication and collaboration skills!” he said enthusiastically.
Now our new environmental stewards want us to do our part by taking the pledge:
I pledge to:
- Keep away from marked or fenced areas where birds are nesting.
- Keep the beach clean by using proper receptacles, carrying out trash or joining a beach cleanup.
- Keep my dog off the bird nesting beaches.
With eveyone’s help, we can protect New York’s beach-nesting birds and their young.