Over the next three days, thousands of students in the Northwest will learn about our region’s endangered orcas via a field trip of sorts – an educational program taking them by satellite to a prime orca-watching spot in the San Juans. Leading the way, West Seattleite Jeff Hogan‘s Killer Whale Tales program. Here’s the announcement:
Nearly 3,000 students in grades 2-7 will join Washington State Parks Foundation (WSPF) and Killer Whale Tales at Lime Kiln Point State Park on May 23-25 for Journey to the Parks: Songs of the Salish Sea, where the stars of the show will be the endangered Southern Resident killer whales which return this time of year to regularly swim by the park. Lime Kiln Point is known as one of the best places anywhere to see orca from land, and programs will include a tour by Friends of Lime Kiln Society (FOLKS).
These three days of live whale educational programming in classrooms will be connected via satellite with student in Washington, Oregon and Alaska, Idaho, Wisconsin and Montana and a special “whale chat” RSS feed will enable written questions and feedback between the students and presenters. This amazing technology and coordination is provided by Inspired Classroom, Polycom, GCI Education, Vision Net and Alter Enterprise. The program will allow students to learn about orca and to identify different Puget Sound orca pods based on recordings. Students will also learn the tools and methods of a whale biologist, and find answers to their questions about whales using science-based thinking. Nothing like this educational event has ever been attempted in Washington state parks before.
“Each May we mark the return of the resident orcas to San Juan Island, but this May is even more special because it marks the expansion of WSPF educational programming to connect more kids and families with state parks across the state. Washington State Parks offer an embarrassment of riches for the outdoor lover and they are firmly embedded in our identity through northwest history, culture and personal experience. Interpretive opportunities like the orca program, shared with kids from under resourced communities in classrooms throughout the Pacific northwest, invite people in the region to visit and connect with parks on a deeper level,” explained John Floberg, Executive Director of WSPF.
Jeff Hogan, Executive Director of Killer Whale Tales, is an educator and a research associate with NOAA Fisheries and the Cascadia Research Collective and teaches thousands of kids each year as he visits classrooms along the west coast. This year Jeff is thrilled to be able to take his program to almost 3,000 kids in three days and to be able to interact with them live over satellite. “I am excited to work with students across the region to connect them with these fascinating and iconic animals, especially students located in cities and towns who have less opportunity for visiting the park,” said Hogan.
This three-day program is grant-funded. Look for updates here.
P.S. We asked Jeff for more information about the participating schools. His reply: “In Washington, there will be 15 elementary schools located in 11 cities that will participate. They include: Bellevue, Bothell, Federal Way, Montesano, Seattle, Silverdale, Spokane, Tacoma, Woodinville and Yakima. Public, private and parochial schools are involved. Another 15 schools in AK, OR, ID, MT, WI and NY will participate. These students live in places such as rural Alaskan communities in the Yukon and Kodiak Island as well as cities like Klamath Falls, Oregon, Couer d’Alene, Idaho and Missoula, Montana. Beyond the NW, children in New York City and a small village called Turtle Lake in Wisconsin will get to learn about and experience the wonders of orcas and specialness of Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island.”