Community foundations support Audubon Community Nature Center education programs

Submitted Photo Margaret Foley, Audubon’s newest naturalist, is pictured here teaching a lesson on beavers in a fourth grade classroom.

Jamestown — In the 2018-2019 school year, Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC) will make over 18,000 contacts with school students throughout Chautauqua and Warren counties.

Recent support from the Blossom Fund at Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Warren County will guarantee that the Audubon naturalists making those contacts will have all the props they need.

Why props?

Each of the 24 different age-appropriate interactive presentations Audubon naturalists make in classrooms throughout Warren and Chautauqua counties requires a set of props. These might include laminated pictures, natural artifacts — fur, feathers, bones, owl pellets, dried plants, etc. — and models or replicas of items from nature. The props provide a “hands on” learning experience, resulting in the students engaging more deeply and retaining the information better.

Because Audubon’s four naturalists are often all out in schools at the same time, they each need their own set of props. Audubon applied for funding from the foundations to cover the creation of a fourth set of props for their newest naturalist, so they can effectively meet the commitments they have made to the schools.

In addition, roughly 3,000 students come to ACNC to participate in “Discovery Walks” each year so kids can get outside and engage directly with the natural world. On the rare occasions when weather keeps the program indoors, staff sets up four Rainy Day Stations. The props ensure that students have an enriching indoor experience.

“We are so grateful for these grants from Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Warren County,” said Audubon Chief Operating Office Jennifer Schlick. “Some of what we need to create the sets of props can be gathered from our collections or from the grounds, and photographs can be printed and laminated in house. But bones, furs, models, replicas, books, and supplies will need to be purchased. The generosity of these two wonderful foundations will enable us to be fully prepared to engage Chautauqua and Warren County students in the wonder of nature.”

Audubon Community Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. To learn more, call 569-2345 or visit auduboncnc.org.

Hours for the Nature Center building and its Blue Heron Gift Shop are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Bald Eagle viewing and trails to walk, snowshoe or cross country ski are open dawn to dusk daily.

Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature by providing positive outdoor experiences, opportunities to learn about and understand the natural world, and knowledge to act in environmentally responsible ways.