Since 2013, the volunteer-driven Birds in my Neighborhood (BIMN) program has helped connect more than 10,000 youth from 60 schools in the Illinois region to nature using birds as an outlet. BIMN promotes children spending time outdoors as a safe way to socialize, exercise, support mental health, and become more familiar with the natural world.
Birds in my Neighborhood® is a volunteer-driven program for grades 2-5 with the goal of acquainting students with nature in their community through the observation of birds. The program is simple. New volunteers attend three trainings which each correspond to one of the three sessions with students. After attending the training, volunteers are assigned in pairs to a classroom and connected to the teacher to schedule dates for the three sessions. Volunteers lead the following three sessions: a classroom lesson, bird walk in the schoolyard, and a field trip in a local natural area.
Teachers and schools interested in incorporating Birds In My Neighborhood into their curriculum can learn more about the program here and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overview of the Teacher’s Role
Each participating teacher signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) before beginning Birds in my Neighborhood®.
During the three visits, volunteers lead the class through various indoor and outdoor activities, so the teacher’s role is not the “traditional” teacher’s role. The teacher’s role is more logistical and observational with assisting the volunteers with classroom management as needed. You are to help coordinate dates and times for classroom visits and trip dates with the volunteers, recruit some parent chaperones for the field trip (if they are available), and assist the volunteers as needed. You will be able to observe nature and bird watch along with your students.
Interested teachers can read the entire Teacher’s Guide here.