By: Paul Grimes
Middle school science teacher Gretchen Estrada runs the “Camo Club,” an after-school program designed to get students involved in hunting, fishing and the outdoors. After making sure they pass their hunter’s safety course, she provides students with opportunities to hunt and fish. She also invites people who work in the wildlife and natural resource fields to present information to the students based on their areas of expertise. This year, she invited Paul Grimes, senior biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Bobwhite Quail Initiative. Quail populations have declined by more than 90% since the 1960’s, and before the presentation, none of the students had heard of a Northern bobwhite. Paul’s presentation lasted over an hour and fifteen minutes and covered topics of bobwhite history, ecology and management as relates to land in Georgia. For the entire presentation, the students couldn’t get enough. All six students were actively engaged, answering and asking questions the entire time.
When the program was over, Estrada had news for Paul. One of the eager students, Jacob, lives with high-functioning autism and ADHD. He had been shy all year and reluctant to speak in the classroom. His teachers had attempted all year to find a subject that would encourage Jacob to engage with teachers and fellow students, to no avail. But that day, bobwhite quail habitat management had encouraged Jacob to interact and connect with his classmates and the presenter.
Wildlife education is important. People can connect with wildlife and the stories these creatures have to offer. Continue to learn, and continue to explore natural resources for yourself. You never know what you may find.