The impending extinction of naturalists

To: "birding aus" <>
Subject: The impending extinction of naturalists
From: "Judie Peet" <>
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000 18:57:39 +1100
Hi Anthea & All,
Perhaps an awareness of the natural world depends on where children grow up, and not just when.
Last week I took a group of 35 primary-age children, plus some parents and teachers to a local forest for a field trip.  The school was Tottenham - in the west of NSW, and the forest was on the outskirts of Dubbo in CW NSW. In the forest, we divided up into manageable groups of three lots of ten-or-so kids, and with the teachers to help, we covered the topics of 1] woodland birds, 2] micro-animals in dams, and 3] how forests differ from farms.
I was surprised at the all round awareness and basic knowledge of 'nature' displayed by these children - most of whom live on working farms.  The issue of 'clearing' was clearly on their minds, and the head teacher said that this subject had not been discussed at school, but it was a hot topic in most homes in the area. I talked about a regeneration area, and asked "What do you think 'regeneration' means?"  "It means bringing things back.", was one of a number of answers that showed a good understanding of not only the fact of regeneration, but the need for it!
We stood quietly, listening to a Rufous Whistler doing his stuff, and when I described the unseen singer to the kids, a couple of them said, "Oh yeah, black and white and ginger, sort of... we saw it just over there." They listened to birds, looked for birds, and took seriously the message that  many woodland birds in their area could have disappeared by the time they had grown up.  They understood the need for understorey plants and 'untouched' remnants of woodland - when I spoke of this I could see that most of these children already had an understanding of the needs of small bush birds.
We went for a 'bush wander' and they found a tiny burrowing frog (I would have missed it), looked with interest at spiders, and admired small wildflowers. I heard about ducks that have their babies in the grass around farm dams, and other that nest in tree hollows.  Everyone knew that hollow trees were virtual apartment houses.
I almost felt redundant.  Almost.
Judie Peet
(The only thing certain in birdwatching is that nothing's certain.)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU