The learning process is often a two-way street between teacher and student. I was inspired by my former Florida Master Naturalist student, Barb Wyskowski, to take on the task of creating Bird Watch Backpacks for St. Lucie County’s Kilmer Branch Library in downtown Fort Pierce. Barb sent me a picture of a similar birding backpack she saw elsewhere.
I had the bird watching backpacks in the back of my mind for months. Then I did some kayaking around the breakwater islands in the Indian River Lagoon just off the Fort Pierce Marina with Florida Master Naturalist Ellen Butler. I was so incredibly impressed by the number of seabirds roosting on them. What an amazing opportunity for residents to bird watch in downtown Fort Pierce!
I had an opportunity to chat with St. Lucie County Library Director Robyn Saint-Paen. I mentioned the idea of having bird watch backpacks available for patrons of the Kilmer Branch Library in downtown Fort Pierce. The idea was for patrons to visit the library, check out the backpacks, and watch the birds on the breakwater islands which are visible across the street from the library. She loved the idea and said “Lets do it.”
I put out a call for help to UF/IFAS Extension colleagues, Florida Master Naturalists, and biologists I often interact with. Thanks to their generous donations, we have now received donations of backpacks, binoculars (used but in great shape), lens cleaning kits, and Florida bird checklists. The library generously contributed Peterson’s Field Guide to Birds for the Bird Watch Backpacks.
Now that the Bird Watch Backpacks are assembled, they have been donated to the Kilmer Branch Library. You can now find information about the birding kits in their card catalog HERE. We have an agreement with the library that I will have access to anonymous user numbers to assess interest in the kits. I’ll also monitor the kits for wear and tear.
Project Development by Ken Gioeli, UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County and Robyn Saint-Paen, Director of the St. Lucie County Library Department.
Much thanks to the following people and organizations contributing to this project:
Illona Christie (Florida Master Naturalist) – binoculars
Joe Scarola and Niki Desjardin (Ecological Associates, Inc.) – binoculars
Carol Roberts (UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County Community Resource Development Extension Agent) – backpacks
Eva Ries (Florida Master Naturalist Associate Instructor, St. Lucie County Audubon) – Bird Identification Check List for St. Lucie County
Leah Welch and Tracy Bryant, UF/IFAS ICS Graphic Arts
For Sale Publications
Birding Backpacks at the St. Lucie County Kilmer Branch Library. Birding kit backpack. (sirsi.net)
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An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Andra Johnson, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. Single copies of UF/IFAS Extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free to Florida residents from county UF/IFAS Extension offices.