Los Angeles 4th-Graders Rally For Raptors


Mr. Reynaga’s 4th-grade class’s Raptor Birds in the City project is our February 2018 Roots & Shoots Project of the Month! See more projects we love here.

A falcon soars overhead and dives in between buildings in search of prey on the ground. After spotting something shiny below, the predator swoops in and consumes it heartily. Having swallowed a piece of plastic, the falcon has potentially eaten its last meal. The discarded plastic, once ingested, can block or cut the bird’s digestive tract. Litter in urban environments presents a very real danger for city-dwelling wildlife.

In South Los Angeles, 4th graders are learning about local birds of prey and how to be environmental stewards. Their project was inspired by a student’s parent who has falcons and came to speak to the class. Together they studied raptors, their habitat, and diet. Hearing about the ways in which humans have impacted falcon health and lifestyle, students became determined to counteract the negative impact humans have on these wild creatures.

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Informed about the effects of litter on wildlife, the 4th graders noticed a lot of trash on their campus. In their efforts to clean up, the class paid close attention to small pieces that might have otherwise been missed by human eyes, but not by hungry birds. The tiny bits of garbage that make their way to the ground can be easily ingested and incredibly damaging to raptors.

Mr. Reynaga’s students realized that many people don’t know how they impact the wildlife that inhabits urban areas, such as South LA. As a class, they also decided they could work to change the status quo by educating others about what they’d learned!  The 4th graders gave presentations to younger classes in an effort to grow the movement to prevent littering, promote a clean campus, and protect local birds of prey.

The students in Mr. Reynaga’s class are demonstrating compassionate decision-making skills in part by working to protect birds of prey and by sharing what they’ve learned with younger students so they too can be kinder to our world.

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The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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About Author

Susan Janowsky is a Jane Goodall Institute Roots & Shoots intern and current senior at Tufts University studying Art History and Anthropology with a focus on Human-Animal Interaction. On campus she is involved in Tufts Animal Welfare, Hillel, and Ski Team. Her passion for animals and conservation has led her to where she is today. Susan has been on an archeological dig in Belize, worked with camels in New York, and has a very handsome labradoodle, Pepper.