Ardmore Gives a Whoop

Naturalist program students got to see some of the rarest birds on the planet today. We met up with the Birmingham Audubon Society at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in hopes of spotting some whooping cranes. The birds very nearly went extinct due to habitat loss. At one point, the world population of individual whooping cranes dipped into the twenties. Now there are over 500 of the cranes worldwide, and 20-30 of them make stops in Alabama at the refuge each winter.  We got lucky and saw about 5 of them, along with thousands of sandhill cranes, some egrets, a hawk, and a great blue heron. It was fun to have bird experts along to answer all of our questions. It was COLD (by Alabama standards), so it was nice that part of the morning was spent in Wheeler’s observation building- a toasty warm, glass-sided building equipped with scopes.
This naturalist program was built with the support of AMV RC&D and Dekko.

Students Become Certified Alabama Water Watch Monitors

As part of this year's naturalist program (made possible by grants from Dekko, AMRV RC&D and T.R.A.I.L.),  Ardmore students are receiving training in water chemistry monitoring by Alabama Water Watch. This certification will help us meet our goals of becoming involved in citizen science initiatives and making a difference in our community.

Alabama is number one in the nation for freshwater biodiversity, with over 132,000 miles of rivers and streams. The 4-H AWW program is giving our students the opportunity to assume an active role in preserving this precious resource. They are mastering new skills, gaining awareness of natural resource issues and enjoying time outdoors.

Once certified, students will be able to check out our testing kit and adopt a testing site. They will work in pairs to gather and report data from local streams and rivers.

Field Study! Sipsey Wilderness/ Bankhead National Forest

Our trip to Sipsey Wilderness was packed with learning for our naturalist program students. All in one day, they learned to read a topo map with a compass, how to safely and correctly navigate steep and rocky terrain, how to identify numerous plants, animals and lichens in the forest and about some of the geological history of our area. Most importantly, these students were given the opportunity to experience Alabama's wilderness firsthand. 
Chloe and I are super excited for new Ardmore teacher Kevin England to join with us in our program. Between his botany degree and his experience with the Sipsey Wilderness area through Wild South, he was a rock star of an educator on this trip! 
This learning experience is part of a yearlong naturalist program that would not be possible without the support of AMRV RC&D and Dekko.