How to Organize a Birding or Nature Festival
Nancy S. Millar See more about Nancy Millar
The Education Issue
The attraction of involving children in the festival is a no-brainer. Capture their interest at an early age, and you have the opportunity to make a difference that will last for generations to come.
Our various festivals have involved children in many ways. One has sponsored very popular art and essay contests before the event , with winners presented with awards during the festival. Another spun off a full-blown event just for schoolchildren where we bus in 4,500 elementary students in two days to participate in live animal presentations, animal displays, arts and crafts and other nature activities held under tents in a city park. High school students are also involved, as volunteers to assist with the younger children.
- If you decide on involvingstudents, begin early. Take into account the school year schedule when planning what form your cityís childrenís participation will take. Whether you plan on publicizing through the school system or having an even closer partnership, teachers need plenty of lead-time to plan participation.
- If you can, involve a teacher who can work from the inside and who understands how other teachers will react. S/he can offer valuable insight into effective ways to motivate other teachers to spread the word or even carry the ball. Brainstorm with your teacher(s) about participation ideas.
- Be organized. Most teachers are, and appreciate working with others who are.
- Consider planning a workshop for the first year if necessary to give interested teachers more information.
- Consider involving as many age groups as you feel you can handle comfortably.
- Find credible judges for any competition you offer (this is a good way to get media involved).
- Also consider involving scout troops. We have had troops offer valuable assistance for years for merely the price of a lunch.
- If you donít feel that you can tackle something as large as special events geared for students, consider asking a speaker or two to be available for a school presentation- before the festival in order to help promote it, of course!
- Contact your school district about being allowed to offer continuing education credits to teachers for their participation in your events. Then make sure they know it!
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