Submitted by John Pollpeter, Lead Naturalist at Woodlands Nature Station
During the 2016-2017 school year, Trigg County Middle School participated in a teaching method called “Project-based Learning.” Students are given a project or problem, and then incorporate writing, math, science, art, and computer skills attempt to develop a solution.
Ms. Brannigan Ethridge’s 8th grade class was given a list of species that need conservation help. Two students, Zach Meador and Hannah Fletcher, were able to take the project even further than they could imagine.
The two students, working with the US Forest Service, developed a plan to put up an osprey tower to encourage the migratory birds of prey to nest in the Woodlands Nature Watch Area of Land Between the Lakes. The location provides safety for the nest, as well as opportunities for visitors to observe the nesting process.
Ospreys were reintroduced to the area in the 1980’s in the Woodlands Nature Watch Area. They were a species impacted by the chemical pesticide DDT. The Lakes Region has more osprey than any other part of Kentucky or Tennessee.
The two students obtained a tower design from Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Resources, set up a successful campaign to raise funds through a Go Fund Me page, and received a generous donation of materials and labor from Kentucky Machine & Engineering. Johnny Guinn, a welder with the company, put the platform together.
On May 13, 2017, Zach and Hannah completed the project and presented the osprey platform to the US Forest Service and a $275.00 check to Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, a non-profit group in Louisville, KY who care for injured osprey. The donation will go towards the care and rehabilitation of any hurt or injured osprey from our area so they may return to the wild.
With a little bit of time, dedication, and community coordination, a lot can be accomplished. The osprey tower will be put in place before the 2018 breeding season in the Woodlands Nature Watch area.