Timber Ridge teacher studying hummingbirds, deforestation
A Timber Ridge School science teacher who leads her students in projects about hummingbirds is getting the chance to study them herself.
Cindy Drouhard is one of three mid-valley teachers traveling to Costa Rica this week to work with scientists as they study the effects of deforestation on hummingbird populations. The other two teachers are Alleya Jack and Claudia Argo from Garfield Elementary School in Corvallis.
The teachers are to return March 1. Travel funds are being provided through a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Drouhard said the teachers will be working with teachers in Costa Rica to help them do hummingbird study projects with their students similar to the ones they did in Oregon. The three also will be assisting the researchers already doing field work there.
Her adventures can be followed online at drouhardincostarica.blog
“I was a field biologist before becoming a teacher, so I am super excited to reconnect with the research world,” Drouhard said, adding in a later email: “I sometimes miss being able to spend my days working outside, being immersed in nature. I am also excited to be in the student role vs. teacher role and learn lots about hummingbirds and forest ecology of Costa Rica.”
She said she’s also looking forward to learning more about the Costa Rican educational system. “That in itself will be an adventure due to my rusty Spanish!”
Two years ago, Drouhard was invited by the Oregon Natural Resources Education Program to join a citizen research project on hummingbird populations in the Willamette Valley.
Her science students created, hung and monitored hummingbird feeders at school and home, learned to distinguish between Rufous and Anna’s hummingbirds, and studied hummingbird life cycles, pollination abilities and adaptations.
The school project was funded through a National Science Foundation grant awarded to Matt Betts in the Forest Ecosystem Society Department at Oregon State University.
Betts and Adam Hadley, who is doing post-doctoral research, are continuing to study the effects of deforestation on hummingbird and pollination in Costa Rica. The supplemental Research Experience Grant is paying for the three teachers to spend two weeks with the research team there.
When Drouhard returns, she will be doing the hummingbird project again with third-graders, assisted by middle-school students at Timber Ridge.
Drouhard said she believes the project will go even better this year after she gains new experiences and knowledge from working with Betts and Hadley.
“Also, I realized when sharing my blog with students that many didn’t even have a clue where Costa Rica is, so I look forward to teaching them a bit about a place so different from Albany,” she said. “We are also hoping to establish relationships with teachers and classrooms to possibly share data from the hummingbird project and connect the students so they can learn from each other about their culture.”