In a stellar collaboration with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the San Vito Bird Club (SVBC) began sponsoring the Lab’s innovative education program, ‘Detectives de Aves’, in local Coto Brus county schools in the academic year 2013.
We started modestly, presenting the 10-class session in five schools including a Field Trip to the Organization for Tropical Studies’ Wilson Botanical Garden. In mid-2016, several years later, we have now engaged 16 schools and more than 500 students.
By local standards, it is an unusual course, employing ornithology and biology, of course, but also art, mathematics, sociology, creative thinking, role-playing, outdoor physical activity and imagination. Overarching goals are to build science skills and inspire students to appreciate and understand local habitats, explore biodiversity and engage in citizen science by using the Cornell Lab’s extensive database eBird.
Naturalist guide, birder and tour leader Eugenio Garcia works as the Club's current head teacher. In May 2016, he visited the Cornell Lab, participated in an education workshop and presented a power point of our work in San Vito. Tireless and charismatic, he taught the program in eight schools during the academic year 2016 with classroom assistance from club member volunteers. Additionally he worked to train other interested teachers who might lead classes in 2017.
San Vito Bird Club members are invited and encouraged to get involved in this program – both as donor-supporters and as volunteers. In 2016, five of us volunteered our time as classroom assistants, training students to properly care for and use binoculars, familiarizing them with field guides of local birds and generally helping keep order in these fun, experiential learning sessions.
This kind of education program is our passion, and we hope to share it with upcoming generations of local students by igniting curiosity, setting positive examples and broadening horizons. Through an agreement with the non-profit organization, Costa Rican Bird Observatories (CRBO), the SVBC hopes to bring the Detectives de Aves program to schools in the Selva Madre area in another part of Costa Rica. And--why not?--on to the rest of the country!