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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
Mission: Harpy Eagle—Students of Colegio Brader Teaching Conservation
Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program    Share
Colegio Brader students visit the Neotropical Raptor Center
Colegio Brader students visit the Neotropical Raptor Center
Herbert Spencer said that “the great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” This certainly is true in the case of conservation education, where we work daily to inspire children and adults to make a conscious effort to better our planet. Working to educate the general public about raptors, and Harpy Eagles in particular, can be a challenge as these birds are often feared and misunderstood. Despite this, we have been very lucky. Over the past two years, we have visited many classrooms and communities and have been inspired and overjoyed at the enthusiasm and interest most everyone has shown for the Harpy Eagle and its conservation.

It was only a few months ago, however, that we saw Mr. Spencer’s words truly become a reality. On 7 May 2004 students from Colegio Brader, located in Panama City, Panama, paid a visit to our Neotropical Raptor Center in order to see our education eagle. They arrived on a warm afternoon and spent about an hour and a half watching a live eagle and gathering information and photos. Inspired and guided by their teacher and mentor, Ileana Cotes, and I hope also by their close-up encounter with a live Harpy Eagle, 60 students from this school have created what they call Mission: Harpy Eagle, an educational powerhouse wherein kids teach other kids about the biology, behavior, and importance of this large bird of prey. And this is no small task. These students have developed PowerPoint presentations, videos, portable displays, and murals that they bring to other schools throughout Panama in order to pass on their enthusiasm and knowledge of conservation to their peers.

Colegio Brader students and their educational display.
Colegio Brader students and their educational display.

They have already visited the Pedro J. Ameglio School, where Mission: Harpy Eagle participants organized the materials for a presentation and group activities, which included singing and passing out stickers to the most enthusiastic students. Soon, they will have their own web site dedicated to the Harpy Eagle and the educational work they are doing.

Though Mission: Harpy Eagle has just begun, it is a shining example of what can be done in conservation education across the globe, namely cooperation among conservation organizations, students, and teachers to form a network to help spread the message of environmental protection on a local scale.


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