With the help of an Avangrid Foundation grant, SOAR will be able to add to and update our teaching collection and enhance our educational outreach portion of our mission. Education programs stress our mission of raptor rehabilitation, education, and research and are planned with schools and organizations and also for public events. SOAR education programs originate from the SOAR’s main facilities in west-central Iowa and from an “outreach” office in northeast Iowa.
We’ll be adding resin raptor skulls to our touch-table at public events. The touchable items are a huge hit with children and adults alike. Holding a resin bald eagle skull in their hands prompts good “why” questions and brings about more open-ended questions from us to help build learning. The resin skulls are durable and withstand hands-on use.
When at a public event, people learn in different ways – some read, some touch and ask questions, some pick up a brochure for later, others listen. Pull-up banners will help those that learn by reading, and if we have a large crowd, the banners provide a learning opportunity while they wait to ask us questions. One banner will be what SOAR does – our mission. The other banner will be general information on raptors (what makes a bird a raptor) and the importance of habitat. Our goal is to have these banners for the upcoming bald eagle days events!
Plus, SOAR will be adding some “tech” to our world to enhance our education experience and broaden our educational reach. Soon we’ll have a portable PA for those large outdoor events. We understand that the word “tech” and SOAR do not always go in the same sentence, so the addition of web cameras to use with education programs and Facebook live videos is going to stretch us! But we are certain they will be a positive influence on our efforts.
The Avangrid Foundation grant will also help SOAR expand educators’ use of our bald eagle database. We’ll be working on educator professional development and school programming around our bald eagle dataset. Our hope is to offer a live video-based workshop and that all the “products” developed will be available through our Google Classroom.
As part of the professional development, lesson plans will be developed around the bald eagle data that will encourage the option of a classroom link-up (this is where the new tech is needed) for students to ask questions of SOAR personnel involved with the data in some way and / or a wrap-up online program with a SOAR educator and bald eagle. The Google Classroom will also be home to additional topics by grade level where SOAR has expertise.
We may even look at offering one-bird education programs via online conferencing options. This would help reach schools and groups that for a variety of reasons are not able to have SOAR at an on-site program.
The Avangrid Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that funds philanthropic investments that primarily impact communities where AVANGRID, Inc. and its subsidiaries operate. Since 2002, the Avangrid Foundation and its predecessors have invested more than $21 million in partnerships that focus on building sustainable, vital and healthy communities; preserving cultural and artistic heritage; advancing education; and improving people’s lives. The Avangrid Foundation is committed to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the United States. For more information, please visit www.avangridfoundation.org.