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The Avian Conservation Center & Partners Bring “Year of the Bird” to Cainhoy Elementary



Press Release

The Avian Conservation Center, a renowned educational, conservation, and scientific organization in Charleston, has received a $12,500 grant from BP America and a $20,000 grant from the Daniel Island Community Fund to fund the “Year of The Bird” Program at Cainhoy Elementary School.

In 2018, we commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate the “Year of the Bird” and commit to protecting birds today and for the next one hundred years. The need for this focus on avian science and conservation has never been more urgent. Today nearly one in eight species of birds (~12% of all birds worldwide) is at “real” risk of becoming extinct in the next 100 years – 50 times the historical rate.

Building on the Center’s past work at Cainhoy Elementary School funded by BP America, the Year Of The Bird Program will expand the Center’s impact on Cainhoy students from a role of programmatic support to that of cultural transformation. Cainhoy Media Specialist, Ashley Illig, has been designated as a liaison between Cainhoy faculty and the Center’s Education Staff. Illig completed a three-week internship at the Center over the summer, becoming immersed in the Center’s medical, educational, research, and conservation work.

Center educators led a day long Teacher Training Workshop for all Cainhoy Elementary teachers on the Center’s campus in August. During this workshop ornithology curriculum was integrated with problem-based learning and STEAM connections into classroom lesson plans intended for the Cainhoy students. Illig is helping teachers create year-round, hands-on grade level projects for students utilizing this curriculum.

Funding from BP America, the Daniel Island Community Fund, and Coastal Expeditions will provide monthly programs for Cainhoy students conducted by the Avian Conservation Center’s staff. The first of these programs took place at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston in September featuring new work by the Italian artist Hitnes. The exhibition is a culmination of The Image Hunter project, in which Hitnes retraced Audubon’s travels in the United States and created work during a residency in Charleston, SC.

Next month students will visit the Center’s campus during fall raptor migration to participate in the annual SC Coastal Raptor Migration Survey. This survey, part of the Hawk Migration Association of North American’s international research on avian migration, will utilize novel radar technology to track migrating birds. Funding from the corporate and foundation partners of this project will make nature and wildlife more accessible to Cainhoy students in a way stimulates a renewed and sustained interest in learning and the STEAM disciplines.

“The decisions we make today directly affect the status of environmental conservation for generations to come. By exposing students to programs incorporating live birds of prey, we are able to encourage active participation in the natural world with a scientific perspective. It is our obligation to assist these young students in developing an understanding and appreciation for our crucial role as stewards of our cherished natural resources,” says Jim Elliott, Founder and Executive Director of the Avian Conservation Center and Center for Birds of Prey.

About the Avian Conservation Center

Founded in 1991 in response to the crucial need of an avian conservation center in South Carolina, the Center utilizes the unique role of wild birds as unsurpassed indicators of the overall health of our ecosystem to preserve the future of the natural world, upon which we all depend. The Center’s mission is to identify and address vital environmental issues by providing medical care to injured birds of prey and shorebirds, and through educational, research and conservation initiatives. The Center for Birds of Prey is the principle operating division of the Avian Conservation Center and is open to the public every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit or call 843.971.7474.

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