Not All Classrooms Have Four Walls

Fifth grade students from Nelda Mundy Elementary learn how oil impacts birds’ feathers in a feather-washing exercise. Photos: Devin Bergeles – International Bird Rescue

Fifth-graders from Solano County were introduced to the best teacher there is, nature.

Back in early May, a class from Nelda Mundy Elementary visited International Bird Rescue’s special outdoor education area in the Suisun Marsh. The students were guided by Bird Rescue’s trained volunteers along a mile-long nature walk with multiple stops to observe and learn about local wildlife.

A fifth grade class from Nelda Mundy Elementary visited Bird Rescue’s special outdoor education area in Suisun Marsh to observe and learn about local wildlife.

The fifth graders learned about the anatomy of bird feathers, the importance of protecting natural habitats, the need for proper trash disposal, the vital work of the Pacific Flyway Fund, and the wildlife rehabilitation work of Bird Rescue. Students were also given information about the local Patwin Tribe’s history with the Suisun Marsh.

“Our goal is to engage children as stewards of the natural world,” said JD Bergeron, CEO of International Bird Rescue. “The Cordelia Sough is a great opportunity for Bird Rescue to help conserve the natural habitat of wild waterbirds, while providing a place for children to learn.”

The Suisun Marsh is the largest brackish marsh on the West Coast home to hundreds of local wildlife and plant species. Sightings include Barn Owls, Great-horned Owls, hummingbirds, circling hawks, local songbirds, and dam-building beavers. The marsh is also an essential resting and feeding spot for birds of the Pacific Flyway, a north-south migratory path stretching from Alaska to Patagonia. Bird Rescue relies on the 55-acre marsh site for activities like the education program, the release of rehabilitated birds, and for collaborative projects with the future Pacific Flyway Center.

Plans for the Pacific Flyway center include a miles-long Walk in the Marsh with interpretive displays and “viewing hides,” a 28,000 square-foot Education Center, and a kayak launch area to give visitors the opportunity to experience the marsh from the water.

Wetland ecosystems like this one, once threatened and destroyed, provide critical habitat for a wide range of vulnerable and endangered wildlife. Access to the Cordelia Slough has been generously granted to Bird Rescue thanks to the Pacific Flyway Fund. Together, these two organizations are working to bring the outdoor experience to youth in your community to inspire the next generation of advocates for birds in a changing world.

Special thanks to Bird Rescue volunteers: Karen Sheldon, Lisa Seto, Laura Dekloe, Mary Mazzocco, Kay Ramsdell, and Jim Walsh

Read more: Cordelia School Education Program