OYBC Service Learning Projects - Students in Action!
Black Swamp Bird Observatory's Ohio Young Birders Club program isn’t just about going on super fun field trips all over the state of Ohio. The OYBC also fosters a commitment to giving back through service learning projects including habitat restoration, nest box building and monitoring, invasive plant removal, and the design and installation of bird feeder systems at schools. These projects instill a sense of pride and a deep sense of connectivity to the land and the area where the projects take place. Service learning projects are one of the many ways the OYBC program educates youth to serve as conservation leaders and mentors for the next generation.
The Barn Owl Project: OYBC Holmes-Wayne County Chapter
The OYBC Barn Owl Nest Box Project serves to educate the community on the danger of using poison to control rodent populations on rural farms. Rodenticides kill more than just rodents and enter the food chain. Barn Owls provide a safe and natural way to control rodent populations as they can eat up to 1,000 mice per year. This also brings the joy of having nesting Barn Owls on a farmers property.
In 2019, the Holmes-Wayne County Chapter members made and installed all 44 Barn Owl nest boxes! (Below left to right: Barn Owl nest box construction, nest box #31 being installed inside the barn, and Barn Owl chicks.)
Tree Swallow Nest Box Grid Installation: OYBC Central Chapter
Our OYBC Central Chapter (sponsored by Columbus Audubon) has been leading the way on grass roots conservation service projects over the past several years. During a past service project, the OYBC Central Chapter made a trip to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) to work with the Refuge's friends group Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Association to install a Tree Swallow grid of 16 nest boxes in the prairie and four nest boxes near the ONWR Visitors’ Center. Not only did our young birders install the nest boxes, they also BUILT the boxes earlier that year. The grid was successfully installed, and Tree Swallows started investigating the new nest boxes almost immediately.
The tremendous effort of Central Ohio Chapter Co-Advisors Darlene Sillick, Tim Daniel, Nina Harfmann, made this project possible. And our sincere appreciation to parents Mike and Dawn Zook and Tim Bischoff, and Refuge Association Executive Director, Heidi Hughes for her support, as well.
Service learning provides students with opportunities to work with diverse members of their communities. Each year the OYBC chapters host a Big Sit/Big Day for Conservation Fundraiser during the month of October. A Big Sit, like a walkathon, solicits donations or pledges for the number of species of bird identified. These funds help support the OYBC and habitat restoration projects. In 2018, our goal was $1,600 and we raised over $2,221. OYBC members chose to donate $1,000 of the proceeds to Lights Out Buckeyes, part of the Ohio Lights Out initiative (photo left: Presentation of the check to members of Lights Out Buckeyes, many of whom are OYBC graduates). Not only does BSBO promote OYBC members to actively participate in raising funds to support their own program, we strive to instill a conservation ethic that supports local initiatives with a global impact.
By working with community members, students can enhance their group, organizational and interpersonal skills. Projects can have long lasting effects that contribute to healthy habitats and conservation. Student become involved in the projects that they raise funds and awareness for. The Ohio Lights Out programs in Columbus, Cleveland, and Toledo all have engagement by OYBC members and "graduates" of the program. These programs are significant as the students are able to be directly involved on a local level while making a global impact in bird conservation.