At Early Bird, we are inspired by innovative approaches to nature education, especially those that engage a range of audiences – be it urban school children on a neighborhood walk or officials from the Forest Department.
Over the years, our work has brought us in contact with an incredible diversity of bird and nature educators. We have not only interacted with them, but also collaborated on hosting workshops or creating regional language resources. This has given us ample opportunity to support valuable, often pioneering, approaches to bird education. A collection of these ideas, tips and tricks have been consolidated in our ‘Handbook for Bird Educators’ which is a testament to the sheer variety of nature education work in India today.
Quite apart from this, we have been facilitating the ‘How to be a Birding Buddy’ workshop, designed as capacity building for simply anybody who is keen on taking birds to children. As part of which they receive access to tools and resources to sustain this connection with nature. The alumni from these sessions are part of our ‘Birding Buddy’ community. We constantly explore channels to reach new educators, and invite them to be an active part of this growing network.
To sustain long term engagement of this educator network, we have been hosting online sessions on different themes related to nature education. Our intention is to touch upon fundamental aspects of nature education from an Indian context and quite simply create opportunities for educators to share space, connect, be exposed to new approaches, exchange best practices, learn and grow together. We hope that in the long run, this leads to collaborations that deepen and strengthen the practice of nature / bird education in India. A glimpse of the sessions…
A showcase of impressive work on community building and nature education
The discussions revolved around aspects such as how to sustain nature education in the long term or how one moves from bird education to broader community mobilization. Unique aspects of the speakers’ work came about – Selvaganesh (Tamil Nadu) has 80+ young birders contributing their observations to eBird (citizen science); Maxim Rodrigues was a part of facilitating the community in renaming a road in Kasargod (Kerala) to ‘Orange Breasted Green Pigeon Road’; and, Nobina Gupta (West Bengal) who is deeply anchored in the lives and livelihoods of village in the East Kolkota Wetlands and has seen the community’s perceptions of the environment shift as they connected to birds and nature around them.
How can art forms and creative expression be woven into nature education?
Our speakers, Tallulah D’Silva (Goa), Grace Paljor (Kashmir) and Veena Basavarajaiah (Bangalore), each brought a seasoned voice and impressive body of work to the conversation. The discussion spanned how to contextualize nature and art as two powerful tools to adapt to varying contexts and audiences. We covered Tallulah’s work in community participation art, environmental activism campaigns such as Kids for Tigers or Save Mollem; as well as Grace Paljor who as the principal of St. Paul’s School in Kashmir has successfully integrated folktales about birds into the academic curriculum; and Veena who is a movement practitioner working on various themes of nature in her art practice. A keen sense of dialogue was present, we talked light-heartedly about amusing experiences on the field and also engaged on a deeper level on the power of art and nature to resolve conflict, give hope and impact change.
A showcase of nature education that builds relationships with one’s local environment, creates awareness about biodiversity and celebrates our unique natural heritage.
Our speakers were – Kalpana Jayaraman (Tamil Nadu), Lansothung Lotha (Nagaland), Jyoti Patale (Chhattisgarh) and Vikram Singh (Himachal Pradesh). They each carried into the conversation a vast range of work in nature education – from being a professor of Zoology to undergraduate students (Kalpana); holding an official post in the department as a Forest Ranger (Lanso); working to bridge the learning gap for tribal children (Jyoti); and curating and hosting biodiversity documentation through your very own Natural History Museum (Vikram).
Exploring the power of play in facilitating impactful learning experiences.
Our speakers were – Peeyush Sekhseria (New Delhi), Sujatha Padmanabhan (Maharashtra) and Yuvan Aves (Tamil Nadu). They each came from a rich repertoire of work in nature education and game design, from board and card games to adapting traditional, folk games or curating gamified experiences for nature education. They each presented games that they had worked on, the communities they designed it for, their approach to design, how it was played and the outputs achieved. Yuvan shared his thoughts on the importance of play in learning and life, examples from the natural world and how it taps into our intrinsic reward system. Peeyush facilitated simple and fun click-based games based on snake identification that added an interesting layer to the session and Sujatha screened a video on Ladakhi children playing ‘Tail the Snow Leopard’ with her ‘Tulo’ game – an adaptation of a folk game – gaining quite the attention.
If you missed these sessions, not to worry, here’s a playlist comprising all the sessions we have done.
Our upcoming session in October commemorates ‘World Mental Health Day’. We look into ‘Birdwatching and Well-being’ to understand the value of nature education and bird watching as tools for mental wellbeing. We will look at the holistic ways in which educators in India are harnessing the power of nature education to build resilience. Specifics about the session:
We will continue to update this blog with details of future events for educators or related to nature education. You can even stay updated via our social media handles, we are @EarlyBirdIndia on Instagram and Facebook, @EarlyBirdNCF on Twitter and don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel that has plenty of resources and playlists on bird education.
We also have a mailing list with regular updates about all aspects of our work, through it we share tools, resources and opportunities to connect children to nature through birds – subscribe here!