Dec. 22, 1998 Blacksburg, Va., Dec. 17, 1998 -- When Christiansburg (Virginia) Elementary School (CES) wanted to start a wildlife mapping and tracking educational program for its students, it turned to an old friend, Virginia Tech's College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources. The college, through its Wildlife Society student members, began volunteer teaching at CES about all the great things to be found in the woods. Now in its second year, the classroom program has expanded to direct field research and data recording, practically unheard of at the elementary school level.
CES teacher Cathy Ney was able to get a $4,800 grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment to create a Wildlife Mapping Project. Part of the grant money was used to buy eight hand-held Global Positioning receivers that scientifically pinpoint, via satellites, the exact locations being studied. Young students record sitings of animals and birds on each expedition, noting the exact location and then sending that data to the state so that it can keep track of habitat patterns and areas where conservation may be needed. Virginia Tech's Museum of Natural History provided bird specimens to help the children learn to identify different species.
College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources students are continuing to help with classroom instruction on wildlife mapping and lead the field expedition groups. The first expedition this fall included nearly 60 CES students, parents, teachers, and Virginia Tech students, who gathered at the Montgomery County Frog Pond Park.
Kerrie Anne Mulvey, a junior majoring in wildlife sciences, and Cliff Hutt, a senior majoring in fisheries, co-chair the university chapter of the Wildlife Society's committee on community outreach and education. Chapter advisor is fisheries professor Ney (yes -- husband of CES teacher Cathy Ney). CES is now planning its own bird sanctuary on the school's ground. The Virginia Tech chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects has half a dozen volunteers working on designing the site.
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