Kindergarteners at Tommie Barfield Elementary School (TBE) learned all about the importance of wildlife conservation recently. In honor of Earth Day, the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary hosted a special presentation for the students, in which they were encouraged to think critically about their carbon footprint.
“Today we’re teaching children about Earth Day, the importance of it—about conservation and the importance of conservation,” Linda Turner, director of communications and operations at the preserve, said.
Turner began her presentation by asking the kindergarteners, “How can Tommie Barfield Elementary students help take care of the earth?”
Answers rang out enthusiastically. One student suggested turning off the lights to save electricity. Another wondered if picking up trash outside would help. Turner then asked asked the students if they recycled to which they replied with a resounding, “yes.”
During the 20-minute presentation, the kindergarteners learned about the 16 different bird species that live on the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary as well as the native plants, trees, butterflies and bees that are observed there. The main element of the day, however, was focused on the bald eagles that have historically made the land their home.
“The most well known bird on the Marco Island Nature Preserve is a bald eagle,” Turner said.
Turner listed off some fun facts about bald eagles for the awed students. For instance, according to her bald eagles are they only bird in America with a white head and a white tail. They also have excellent vision, allowing them to hunt with precision.
“We’re trying to let them [the kindergarteners] understand that we’re losing a lot of our space to building and we need some place for animals, especially the gopher tortoise that needs a place to go,” preserve volunteer Joanna Sliwka said. Sliwka read the students a fictional story about a bald eagle family following Turner’s educational talk.
At the end of the presentation, each student was gifted a stuffed eagle toy and a postcard with a photo of Paleo and Calusa, the two eagles that lived on the preserve up until Paleo’s death a few months ago. Turner hopes that the presentation will encourage the students to consider long-term conservation.
“We need to keep our earth healthy and clean and to take care of it,” Turner told students. “It is the only earth that we have so we better take care of it.”