The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) organized a workshop based on the BirdSleuth International Educational Curriculum in Panama. They were excited to use the bird counts as indicators of forest restoration in collaboration with PRODESO and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Laboratory. Five two-day workshops were facilitated in the districts of Santa Fé, Los Pozos, Boquete, Volcán and Natá in the provinces of Veraguas, Herrera, Chiriquí, and Coclé in Panama. The workshops helped to strengthen the PROCUENCAS Program for restoration and reforestation in five priority watersheds of Panama: Santa Maria River, La Villa River, Chiriquí River, and Rio Grande.
Photos of participants and activities at the workshop in Santa Fé:
With the support of the PROCUENCAS Program of the Department of the Environment in Panama, the Alliance for the Million Hectares and the Department of Education, a group of teachers, technicians, community leaders, and farmers received the training needed to lead educational activities in their own communities about birds, habitat and conservation. Katherine Araúz Ponce, CATIE consultant and liaison, organized and carried out these excellent workshops. The workshops included sessions in the field on how to use binoculars, how to watch and identify the local birds, and how to improve identification skills and incorporate the scientific method into the observing process. In addition, there were practical group sessions on entering bird data into the eBird platform. The goal of the workshop was to teach participants how to use the fun and educational activities in the BirdSleuth International curriculum as well as the bird counting protocols from the eBird platform.
The workshops also sought to help the participants understand the threats and challenges faced by birds and their habitats while encouraging interest in science and the environment. The ultimate aim was for the students to develop skills to promote awareness around threats and challenges faced by birds and their habitats.
Photos of participants and activities at the workshop in Los Pozos:
In each of the workshops, most of the participants did not have previous knowledge about birds, or at least they thought they didn’t. As the workshops progressed, participants realized that they knew more about birds than they thought! In addition to learning about birds as indicators of forest restoration and picking up tips on bird monitoring, each participant discovered how they could apply the information they learned in the workshop to their communities.
The ideas that most stood out among the participants were mental and physical health, science projects focused on citizen science about birds, conservation projects at the local level, gardening to create habitat for wild species and different artistic expressions related to birds and conservation.
Photos of participants and activities at the workshop in Boquete:
At the end of the workshops, the participants were very motivated! In Santa Fe, Los Pozos and Tierras Altas, the communities created environmental groups to further pursue their initiatives. Some teachers expressed the need to follow up on the workshops bycarrying out an evaluation within a year to see what they had done with the materials provided They also came up with the idea of discussing the sponsorship of more educational workshops like this one for teachers in the country with the Department of Education. The participants expressed feeling very happy and committed to the environmental mission of the workshop and also enjoyed the materials and certificate they received.
Photos of participants and activities at the workshop Caño de Natá:
These are some of the comments (during and after the workshops) by some of the participants:
“The tools we have received have potential to improve the physical and mental health of the students. With these activities, I am sure that the students will have fun and will help them relax”
“... Thank you very much for that amount of valuable information you gave us in the workshop…”
“I liked the workshop because I learned what we can do for bird conservation. Since I did not know anything about the subject, the materials and the time for practice were fantastic”
“For me, the memorable part of the workshop was to learn more about birds and their behaviors. Some young males help the adult male in courting the female…Wow. It is like they know they are not ready for commitment, yet”
“In Los Pozos, province of Herrera, we participated in a workshop that changed my life as a teacher. Because I could make my seventh-grade students into real bird detectives! With the workshops and the expertise of Katherine, we learned to empower ourselves on how to know this wonderful world of birds. I managed to guide about 130 young people among seventh and university students and it was an enriching experience for them and myself”
“I was surprised how time goes by while watching birds. I did not realize it and I was unsettled.”
“A few weeks ago we were invited to receive training on bird monitoring. This training gave us the opportunity to venture into the wonderful world of birds. We would love to thank Katherine for helping us enter this universe of birds as well as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology”
Photos of participants and activities at the workshop in Tierras Altas:
Photos are courtesy of Katherine Araúz Ponce. Article by Ashley Calderón and Sanjna Das.