The Highlands Biological Foundation has received a $25,000 grant from the Eckerd Family Foundation to create “Backyard Naturalists,” an after-school program designed to inspire a lifelong appreciation of the natural world through science, art and technology.
It is intended as a model program that could be replicated other places.
Backyard Naturalists participants will learn the essentials of how to be an amateur naturalist. The program will include eight weeks of lessons, one afternoon per week, structured to promote a better appreciation and understanding of the natural world by nurturing creativity and independent observation skills.
Study topics will include learning about plants and animals, community interactions between species, nature journaling, illustration and a nature photography workshop. Using this knowledge, the students will work together to develop a wiki, a website that is collaboratively developed by a community of users, which allows them to freely add content, edit and become active participants of the website rather than just visitors
The program is created in partnership with Meet Your Neighbors, an international photographic initiative designed to reveal wildlife living amongst us. The program will draw upon the educational resources of the Highlands Nature Center.
The pilot program starts March 19. After the initial pilot program is launched in Highlands, images produced by other Meet Your Neighbours photographers around the world will be added into the wiki to encourage the development of similar Backyard Naturalists programs in other communities.