School Twinning Project – Esquala la Esperanza, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua & St. Edmund’s School, Tobermory, Bruce Peninsula
One young Nicaraguan birder and environmental educator, Norlan Zambrana, recently made the several thousand kilometer trip in the other direction. Children in Tobermory’s St. Edmund’s School Kindergarten and Grade 1-2-3 classes were treated to a visit from Norlan as part of his one month visit to Canada.
Mrs. Harkness and the K/JK class at St. Edmund’s School, with Norlan Zambrana (back right) and Rod Steinacher (BPBO).
Norlan brought notes and pictures drawn by students on Ometepe (oh-mah-teh’-pay) Island, who are the same age as our boys and girls. Students from both Mrs. Peacock’s Grade 1-2-3 and Mrs. Harkness’ K/JK classes, sent their own letters and drawings, plus lots of little gifts from our area, with Norlan, who is now safely back home in Nicaragua. The boys and girls in both classes will now be in touch with the Ometepe students through the winter and into the spring as “pen pals”. Students in both places will be able to share their local experiences, talk about their school and families, and also work towards helping their local environment.
Like the Bruce Peninsula, Ometepe Island in Nicaragua is a World Biosphere Reserve. Like the peninsula, Ometepe is a farming area surrounded by water, with a tradition of forestry. The idea of protecting the environment is just being developed on Ometepe, where young school children are starting to take part in community clean ups and tree planting projects. They are also learning to protect birds and animals. Back home, Norlan is part of this education process, which involves children in the future of their community.
Ometepe is a tropical island made up of two volcanoes (the one on the left is active!, the one on the right is a national park) in Lake Nicaragua an hour from the Nicaraguan mainland.
Many of the Bruce Peninsula’s migratory birds will travel through, or overwinter in Nicaragua in Central America. People involved in monitoring bird populations, both here and in Nicaragua, have been collaborating for the last seven years, with the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO) and Fauna and Flora International (FFI) developing a strong working relationship. This has included two visits to that country by Ontario birders and two Nicaraguan interns (Luis Valerio in 2010 and Norlan Zambrana in 2011) coming to BPBO’s Cabot Head Research Station for additional training in bird handling and identification.
EDUCATION / OUTREACH
It has been BPBO’s policy, since its inception, to involve as many people on the Bruce Peninsula in its operation and research.
Mist netting for Saw-whet Owls was undertaken during spring & fall at the Institute for Outdoor Education & Environmental Studies (2002-2004 and again in 2006).
Part of a 2009 grant from The HIVA Foundation was set aside for education programming for Bruce Peninsula school children in 2010. So far, students from both grade 5 and Grade 12 at two Bruce County schools have completed programming at the CHRS.
A birding display has occurred weekly at BPNP Visitor Centre during July & August from 2008-2012, as part of BPBO’s education/outreach program.