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The three pillars of Rocky Point Bird Observatory’s (RPBO) mission statement are Monitoring, Research and Public Education, and all of these go hand-in-hand with the success of conservation efforts. The Education programs that RPBO operates and participates in are important in communicating the work that it does, the state of birds, and how the general public can help. 

RPBO started expanding its work in Education and Outreach when it hired its first Lead Educator in 2015. This helped grow the organization’s public recognition by networking at events, delivering programs to school groups, and running its own events such as the Christmas Bird Count for Kids. This was an important first step in establishing an education department and growing the organization’s reputation as a go-to for all things birds on southern Vancouver Island. 

The COVID pandemic put on hold or significantly altered the scope of the programs. After over a year of the position being open, the organization hired a new Lead Educator in November 2022, which was crucial to helping the Education and Outreach department of RPBO become more established once again. With this position, RPBO has been able to create new connections in the community of greater Victoria and beyond, as well as rekindle old ones.

The Education program runs events and workshops, brings educational tables and activities to various external community events, books private educational programs for youth such as classroom visits and banding station field trips, and runs free online presentations on a variety of topics.

In 2023, RPBO has so far participated in 17 community events, with 8 more scheduled for the year, and always the potential for more. The total reach for in-person events for the first eight months of 2023 was approx. 1000 people. This, combined with the 1140 registered attendees for the 2023 online presentations, will bring RPBO’s reach numbers well into the 3000’s by the end of the year. This averages 2 events per month, in addition to 1-2 online presentations each month that are free and open to the public on a variety of topics.

One example of the types of collaborations, partnerships, and initiatives that RPBO has been able to achieve in the last year includes ongoing program delivery to participants at Power To Be, an organization that helps people overcome physical or social barriers to nature and adventure. Another success was RPBO’s annual Victoria Bird Week, which hosted a large World Migratory Bird Day celebration, a keynote speaker, and public bird walks. Recently, RPBO had a booth and delivered a speech about healthy bird habitat at a local event celebrating the biodiversity of the Bowker Creek watershed, which more than 200 people of all ages attended.  

Every person who attends an event or presentation gives RPBO the potential to educate people about bird banding and conservation, to make new connections, and potentially welcome new members and volunteers, of whom it relies heavily to operate.

With the funding received for education, the program’s inventory now holds around $20,000 worth of education materials - a great benefit to all of RPBO’s various events.

People of diverse ages, backgrounds, and abilities deserve the opportunity to connect with nature, learn in a safe and fun environment, and feel empowered to be stewards of the earth that we all share. RPBO aims to provide this to people through its education programs -  whether it’s looking at feathers under a microscope, feeling the sharpness of a real hawk talon, seeing beautiful birds up close at the banding station, spotting their first Wood Duck through binoculars, or having conversations with passionate staff and volunteers.

Maintaining this level of engagement and relevance requires much planning, material development, and promotion, as well as the staff time needed to run the programs. The more connections RPBO makes, the more funding opportunities become available through grants, donations, and revenue from programs. 

Caitlin did a great job leading us through a 2-hour banding station tour! The youth in our group were quite engaged with the information Caitlin was sharing and really enjoyed our visit all around. Caitlin offered a great blend of information and activities while keeping our youth engaged in a casual yet meaningful way.”   -  Program Leader, Canadian Wildlife Federation 

“Each kid loved different parts of the entire experience" - Youth Community Mentor, SC'IA'NEW First Nation

"Thank you for a fascinating presentation; interesting, and informative with stunning visuals!  An inspiration to travel and visit more areas in BC.”- Feedback from one of RPBO’s free, public Zoom presentations

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