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In Audubon's Steps: Art & Ornithology

In the tranquility of Beebe Woods, Kate Durkin's 9th-grade Changing Earth science class embarked on a journey into the world of birds as part of an Arts Across the Curriculum project, an FA signature program. The Audubon Project, paying homage to the renowned naturalist, John James Audubon, invited students to explore the hidden wonders of avian life through observation and creativity.

Outfitted with binoculars, cameras, field guides, and birding apps, students ventured into the woods with a sense of wonder, guided by Dr. Durkin's instructions to proceed slowly and in silence, attuning themselves to the natural world in the spirit of Audubon.

Amidst the rustling leaves and the chirps of hidden inhabitants, students carefully observed their feathered subjects as the birds foraged under leaves and brush and soared overhead. Occasionally, their task was interrupted by human sounds – distant traffic and the hum of landscaping crews – reminding them of the delicate balance between nature and civilization.

Once back in the science lab, art teacher Lucy Nelson assisted students in translating their observations into vibrant drawings of cardinals, robins, terns, and ducks, among others.

However, the Audubon Project was more than an exercise in observation and creativity. It served as a precursor to the Naturalism project, a culmination of students' observational and descriptive skills. As Dr. Durkin remarked, "Audubon allows them to start describing what they see, which is one of the main skills of science."

For the Naturalism project, students will return to the woods and venture to Woodneck Beach to find and identify native species, including 10 birds, 10 plants, and four insects, creating their own naturalist journals.

As students prepare for this next phase, they carry the lessons learned amidst the branches of Beebee Woods. They emerge not only as amateur birders but as stewards of nature's wonders, equipped with a newfound appreciation for the intricacies of the natural world and the changing Earth they inhabit.

In the words of Audubon himself, "A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children."
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