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History of Flying WILD


Planning and Development


In 2002, the Council for Environmental Education (CEE) was awarded a three-year grant to develop the Flying WILD program. Funding was provided from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with matching funds from Phillips Petroleum, now ConocoPhillips. With funds from the grant, CEE hosted a planning seminar during November of 2002 with 22 individuals representing 16 organizations involved in bird education. Members of this planning council provided valuable input on the program's development.

In the fall of 2003, CEE hosted a meeting of the Flying WILD Task Force to review progress and provide further suggestions about the program's development. After completing the initial draft of the program guide, CEE distributed copies of activities and program guidelines for review and field testing. Numerous environmental educators, bird experts, and environmental conservation professionals participated in the review of the text. An additional 70 classroom teachers throughout the United States participated in field testing Flying WILD activities.

 

The Educator's Guide and Piloting

In July, 2004, CEE published the first edition of the program guide, Flying WILD: An Educator's Guide to Celebrating Birds. During September, 2004, with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region VI, CEE worked with Johnston Middle School, in the Houston Independent School District, to pilot the program. As part of this piloting effort, Johnston Middle School staged a Flying WILD festival in conjunction with their annual Family Math and Science Night. The event was a great success with nearly 700 participants.

 

Flying WILD's National Debut

Flying WILD took flight onto the national stage on Friday, April 1, 2005 at a student-hosted bird festival held at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Conference. Teachers from across the United States visited over 20 booths hosted by students from the Dallas Environmental Science Academy (DESA), students from the Houston Outdoor Learning Academy (HOLA), and special guest experts and volunteers. Educators learned about migratory birds and their conservation and came face-to-face with students engaged in environmental stewardship as they participated in activities from Flying WILD: Educator's Guide to Celebrating Birds, the core curriculum for the Flying WILD program. From making pine cone bird feeders to experiencing Bernoulli's Principle using bird gliders, and from learning how different birds "fill the bill" with a variety of special foods to meeting a few live birds up close, visitors and guests had wing loads of fun and got a bird's eye view of Flying WILD in action.

The Council for Environmental Education (CEE) extends a special thank you to ConocoPhillips and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for sponsoring this historic event. CEE also thanks the students and teachers at DESA and HOLA, as well as volunteers from the Heard Museum, On the Wing Again, Dallas Audubon, Fort Worth Audubon and Texas Partners in Flight for sharing their time and expertise to help make the national launch of Flying WILD a success.

Many state-level Project WILD Coordinators have been involved in launching Flying WILD in locations throughout the United States and CEE has initiated work to establish additional community partnerships with urban-based organizations involved in bird education, teacher training, and school outreach.

 
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Photo credit: Galveston Bay Foundation
 

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