For the Experience
With the end of the semester near by, it is a sad but also proud realization that my Tweetspeak cluster is finishing up. While I may be a bit sad about this, the experience I gained from this cluster far outweighs any other class I have taken so far in college. Along with the experience as a beginner birder and blogger, I have also developed a better understanding of what it means to learn together as a class. Together we have developed a passion for birding and together we have developed an interest in discussing important conservation topics. We have learned so much from each other through the many class conversations and group projects we had this semester.
One such group project was the Audubon Project. Within this project I had the opportunity to work within a group (Justin, Baylee, Tim, & me). Each contributed unique skill sets, knowledge, and incredible enthusiasm to this project. With everyone’s combined efforts we were able to get certification for the Westminster College Woods to become a bona fide Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary.
Academically, working on making the Westminster College Woods an Audubon Sanctuary required background knowledge from my Bio 120 class. For this project we really needed to dive deep into all of the components that make this ecosystem suitable for birds to live in and have breeding grounds. This required our in-class knowledge about migration patterns of birds, habitat types, the importance of water for birds (metabolism & thermoregulation), adequate food sources, the importance of shelters,vegetation for cover, and finally the different types of trees and their purpose to different birds. Without this knowledge on how birds interact with their environment, we wouldn’t have been able to put together a solid application for this project. Aside from from using knowledge from my Biology of Birds course, having a good background in digital media enabled us to create the amazing video seen above.
Tweetspeak in-class lectures
During this Audubon project we recognized WHY we were doing this. It wasn’t just for the grades. Education goes beyond ourselves. Our effort was put towards doing a good job so that we could show off the College Woods in way that presented its importance for the conservation of birds and other wildlife. This educational value is important to other college students who have heard about the College Woods, but have not visited it. My hope is that after hearing that we have become certified as an Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary and shared our awesome video on social media, we will encourage college students to explore the college woods and to appreciate its importance not just as a recreational location but also for wildlife protection. Of course, we made plans to include the general public. We are encouraging more signs and better parking so that people will notice that the College Woods is a place that is open to any one and everyone. Addressing the population of birders, our hope is also that they would put the College Woods on their list as a birding hotspot. This would further encourage conservation as more and more people see the large diversity of birds in this ecosystem.Working with the Audubon Society, a nonprofit organization, to create this wildlife sanctuary was a great experience for me. Through working on our application, my perspective on the college woods changed as I began to see how the ecosystem there really fit together to create suitable living conditions for birds and other wildlife.
I have noticed a lot of growth, individually as well as a group, throughout this project. On an individual level, I think that there is something about being in the woods that gives you a sense of liberation and connection. I remember our first visit to the forest as a group; we all had a lot of fun as we surveyed and explored the woods from one end to the other. It was great bonding experience that helped me to be much more comfortable working with my team. Working as the group manager helped me to see how valuable each group member was. Each contributed his/her own skill sets to the project. I was very impressed with the knowledge Tim brought to the table about previous uses of the site, his recommendations for improvements, as well as his enthusiasm to survey the woods using the Go-Pro. I enjoyed working with Baylee; her energy and countless brainstorming ideas helped us to really piece together this project as well as the video. Using his video production skill set, Justin taught me a lot about how to shoot good footage and to use different equipment that I had never touched before. It is through our diligent effort and dedication to working together that helped found this Audubon Sanctuary. I am thankful to each of them for making this such a wonderful adventure.
A short clip of the team walking towards the College Woods
Throughout this semester, I have a learned so much from my Professors, Dr. Duerr and Bradley Weaver, as well as my classmates. This project was a great venue to apply my acquired knowledge from Bio 120 and Digital Media Essentials. As such, I intend to continue to apply this knowledge as I share with friends about this semester’s wonderful experience in this cluster. I am definitely going to try to bring friends birding with me to the college woods and the other locations that got certified as an Audubon Sanctuary on campus. As a citizen scientist, I will continue to advocate the importance of conservation in and out of the college setting. This class has project and class has expanded my view on how much of an influence a few college students can have on campus and in protecting birds/wildlife.
Reflection of my experience during this project and this semester as a birder and blogger