Summit teaches wildlife lessons

2012-05-18T06:15:00Z Summit teaches wildlife lessonsBy GAIL COLE, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

4-H sponsors event about natural resources

Local elementary students who spent much of this school year learning about wildlife, habitat and local wildlife’s role in the ecosystem gathered Thursday for a day of learning and fun at the 10th-annual 4-H Wildlife Stewards Youth Summit.

The event was hosted by Benton County Oregon State University Extension Service at Muddy Creek Charter School.

Around 175 students from Muddy Creek, Hoover Elementary School and Jefferson Elementary School spent much of the day presenting their group projects to judges and participating in activities such as scavenger hunts and lessons on wildlife. They were joined by volunteers from several local organizations, such as the Corvallis Arts Center, Benton Soil and Water Conservation District, Monroe High School Teen Weedspotters and Benton County Master Gardeners.

After learning about different local birds from Stacy Moore from the Institute for Applied Ecology, a group of Jefferson fourth-graders created bird masks. Each chose a bird beak to make out of cardboard based on the type of food consumed by the various species; for instance, short, stout beaks indicated a seed-eating species, while long-beaked species ate insects.

The students got to add a rainbow of colorful feathers of their choice, just for fun.

Bailey Dickerson, 10, was among the students who lingered over the display of stuffed birds.

“I never knew this bird existed,” she said, motioning toward a brightly colored orange-crowned warbler.

Bailey explained that her natural resources project focused on red-backed salamanders, an amphibian found in the region whose existence she learned about through her Wildlife Stewards group project.

The practical experience needed in the projects enabled students to gain a deeper understanding of environmental dynamics, explained Maggie Livesay, a Benton 4-H outreach agent who helped to organize the event and the projects.

“Experiential learning sticks with kids,” she said.

Many spent the day learning as students; others took on the role of educators.

Since January, Olla York, 10, a Muddy Creek fifth-grader, has studied American goldfinches for her group project. Her newfound expertise in birds gave her a chance to teach the visiting students about the school’s bird garden, where various classes established a habitat for local winged creatures and studied them after flocking to the area.

Olla delivered several five-minute presentations Thursday morning in one of the kindergarten classrooms that looks out onto the miniature habitat. The repetition paid off.

“I did a lot better this time!” she whispered to a passing teacher after finishing a presentation.

Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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