An entertaining way to learn!
If you’ve been meaning to brush up on those archery skills or your knowledge about wildlife trafficking, today might serve as some inspiration. Hear from a volunteer at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, Denny J. Padilla Rivera, about how an archery program and a lesson about endangered species at the refuge inspired youth.
While volunteering, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with birders, tourists, scientists, wildlife aficionados and students. We offer a variety of programs for people to enjoy the outdoors such as environmental education, hunting, fishing, summer camps, public programs and more.
Warmer temperatures can always translate to outdoor activities and there are some students who have already started to take advantage. The first group I worked with this year were students from Pocomoke Middle School. Aubrey Hall, a park ranger at the refuge, and I worked with 10 kids and four adults, learning about endangered species and archery during our fun and educational afternoon.
Aubrey taught the basics of archery, which includes posture, safety measurements, and the benefits of the sport. I discussed endangered species, the human impact on those animals and what we can do to reduce our impact. Students were able to see and touch several endangered species trafficking items that were confiscated, such as zebra hide, African elephant ivory carving, cobra’s skin wallet, black coral necklace, sea turtle bracelets and more.
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They learned about the work the Service does to warn travelers about buying these objects abroad and how the agency works to stop illegal wildlife trade. I could tell it was an eye-opening experience for the students to see the effects of wildlife trafficking. “I always wanted to see a zebra, but not like this,” one student said.
Meanwhile, the archery group was positively competitive against their teachers and each other, but still cheered each other on every time someone got close to the bull’s eye. The lesson for this group: the importance of strength and exercise! The students quickly realized how much strength and focus the sport of archery takes.
At the end of the day, I knew the students learned some great lessons and better understood the work of the Service. That is enough for me to continue to lead useful and meaningful activities for visitors, connect people with the outdoors and get more people involved with wildlife conservation.