Early in my teaching career I was teaching 7th grade at an inner city school. One of our class electives was literature. Not a language arts teacher by trade, I learned a lot that year. One of my most startling discoveries that even 7th graders love to be read to! The other discovery was that literature was a great connection to real world issues. I selected the book Hoot by Carl Hiaasen to read to my students. The book Hoot is about the plight of the burrowing owls in Florida. The story follows a young boy who fights to save a colony of burrowing owls by stopping the building of a pancake house. At the end of our elective, my students and I became infatuated with this book. My students most never had seen any owls in person became immersed in the story about the owls but also about the environmental impact that a kid could have. It gave me a spring board for a lot of my future lessons with all of my students over the year. Your never too small to make an impact! That year we even got to meet Carl Hiaasen at the public library and learned how environmental challenges make it into his books for kids.
Fast forward to 15 years later. Still obsessed with those owls. This past December while on vacation in Florida, we decided to make the trek to see the owls. The owls make their home in Cape Coral Florida. Like many of our photography adventures we often hire a guide to take us to local spots to view the wildlife. We found a reasonable guide who told us to meet them at a local Winn Dixie. Our guide Beverly hopped in our car to take us to see the owls. We literally drove behind the Winn Dixie to see the first burrow. The owls have made the best of the human encroachment situation. Development has severely threatened their habitat. Its good to know there are people like Beverly working with an organization to save the burrowing owl. Photographing these owls was truly the highlight of our vacation but it keeps gnawing at me how we expect nature to survive in small spaces.