Competition “At my bird feeder”/”Birds in my backyard”, Winter-Spring Season
Acopian Center for the Environment In cooperation with various NGOs and state bodies
Today, most of the faced environmental problems are the result of lack of environmental education. It is very important to start environmental education in the school period, with this appropriate attitude will be developed at an early age. However, as we know, children like to play, but not to learn. Accordingly, the education should be designed as a game, and not like a lesson. For such type of interactive education, the watching of the birds is of high advantage such as competition, joy and safe and a way of close interaction with nature. In winter, as many birds come to the cities, towns and villages with the hope to find some food, it is easy to close distance for watching them by attracting their attention with food. Bird feeders are preferable to be made by children because of two purposes: education of children and feeding of the birds, and participation and help of the parents in the process. It will be also an indirect support to develop positive attitude to birds, which is very important and actual nowadays in panic conditions concerning to threat of avian influenza.
In December of 2003 “Birds of Armenia” project together with Ecoclub “Ani” of Saint Akob Curch in Gyumri have started winter competition titled “At my bird feeder…” Children from different schools of Gyumri made feeders and placed them in the backyards and parks. Then, they painted pictures of birds in winter, wrote stories about birds and sent them to us together with the photos of feeders they made. Judges chose the best paintings and stories and the winners of the competition got prices (binoculars, books about birds, etc). Presentation of the results took place on the International Bird Day, which we made the mid of April of 2004 in the Central Park of Gyumri. More than 200 children with their parents and friends joined us during the event, so that the next year we enlarged the borders of the competition and involved Yerevan, Vanadzor, Stepanavan and Gyumri. We closely cooperated with our partners who helped us to organize the competition: EcoClub “Ani” in Gyumri, Yerak NGO in Vanadzor, and LTEIC NGO in Stepanavan. We also put new nomination “The best observation” in the competition. In this time more than 2000 people joined us and we conducted International Bird Day Celebration in all four cities. One of the competitors made exclusive feeder, and received official governmental patent license for 15 years. From 2006 to 2007 environmental oriented Peace Corp volunteers also were involved in the project. They were the representatives of “Birds In My Backyard” competition, each in their own villages or towns. Starting from 2006 more then 48 volunteers were involved in the project from different parts of Armenia.
From the period of 2008-2009 we started to cooperate with governance offices in different regions and with “National Center for Educational Technologies” a state non trade organization, therefore we involved more children, as they were supporting in spreading information.
Based on the experience we have, we can say that really enjoy participating in such kind of activities involving their parents in feeder making process, which is more important as a part of indirect adult education.
Goals and objectives
We would like to enlarge the competition and involve some more sites where Peace Corp volunteers are operating and not only environmental oriented Peace Corp volunteers but all of them. The main goal is to involve as many children as possible in the competition and make their participation active. For this purpose we suggest the following:
To establish close cooperation with new partners
To declare 3 nominations for the competition
“The best story”. Children have to write any story about birds on their feeder
“The best painting”. Children have to paint the birds on their feeder
“The best photo”. Children have to take a photo of the birds on the feeder
To widespread the information about competition among as many schools as possible
To hand over the package of their works on time
We will conduct two-three seminars with our partners to discuss the difficulties and solutions of previous actions and train them for this year.
With the help of our partners, we will distribute the announcement about competition as well as appropriate instructions (how to make feeders, what kind of food birds prefer, etc.) among the schools in all the towns and cities where Peace Corp volunteers are operating.
Also a radio interviews were also broadcast where the children themselves told about the competition and the stories of how they helped the birds during the cold winter months.
With the help of our partners, we will collect competition works and the Judges will choose the best ones. In the middle of the winter after Christmas we remind all partners and schools about importance of feeding birds.
In the beginning of April, we will conduct Celebration of International Bird Day, where the winners will be announced and the prices will be handed to them.
Results and the measurement
Increased number of competition works and their increasing quality will serve as an estimation of their participation activity. The bird-feeder-watchers’ activity will be measured by the number of received bird photos at feeders. During the time provided more then 4000 schoolchildren from 360 schools participated in the competition. What is worth mentioning is that the teachers and the parents of the children also took active part in the feeder making process.
Awarding of the most active PC volunteer
Pictures of winners 2008
Photos of winners 2009
In 2008-2009 in the frames of the competition schools in their initiative organized various events in schools and parks of Yerevan. Children took part in a performance singing songs about birds, and described in a unique way the specifications of different birds. Some schools put the feeders in the yard of the school and some took it to the Lovers` Park.
In the yard of the school
Play in the school
Winners of 2008-2009 were taken to Armenian Tree Project for educational purpose.
Celebration of winners 2009
On the way to ATP
Schoolchildren were very excited by visiting the nursery and having a small descriptive lecture about plants and tree species growing there, and also they had a discussion on the environmental issues of Armenia and in general.