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Service Learning

From the Classroom to the Real World

Service-learning is a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Young people learn and develop by designing, organizing, implementing, and participating in meaningful community service experiences. Many positive outcomes are possible when students participate, such as a habitat improvement project that improves the local environment. These projects encourage students to think critically, make decisions, interact with others, solve problems, and provide a thoughtful service that makes a difference to the community and themselves.

When planning to implement a service-learning project, teachers should consider how they will integrate components of the community service project with the curriculum. Consideration should be given to providing students with time to work on projects, providing guidance to students in planning and completing projects, and providing opportunities for student learning to be evaluated. Throughout their projects, students will also need structured time to reflect on their learning and experiences through discussion, reading, writing, and the arts.

Another component of service-learning includes time for celebration to recognize students for their contributions. Assemblies, award ceremonies, and special media coverage are ways to acknowledge accomplishments.

Click here to discover an example of a student taking action to conserve and protect migratory birds through service-learning. Then scroll down for other ideas for bird-related service learning projects.

Bird Conservation-related Service-learning

Project Ideas

Flying WILD: An Educator’s Guide to Celebrating Birds contains activities and ideas tied to bird conservation that are excellent for implementation as service-learning projects. Some possible projects are highlighted below.

School Bird Festivals

Students get excited about birds when they work together to plan and produce their own school bird festival. With each step they learn more about birds and make direct connections between knowledge gained in the classroom and its use in the real world. Students prepare and present educational activities for the festival (Half of the activities in Flying WILD: An Educator’s Guide to Celebrating Birds are designed for students to lead in a festival setting.), create public service announcements concerning the importance of migratory birds and write press releases promoting their festival. Leadership skill develop as students work to partner with environmental professionals and potential festival volunteers. Students may write letters to acquire donations and sponsorship, publish a festival program brochure, make decorations, or even produce dramatic performances. The festivals are fun for everyone, and a good way to get students excited about and interested in bird conservation while providing a valuable community service.

Nesting Boxes

To build and hang bird boxes (or birdhouses), students need to decide which type of bird in their area uses nesting boxes, research the necessary size and shape of the box for local species, find the best location for mounting the box, and monitor use of the box. Students will also assess maintenance and cleaning needs for their nesting boxes and develop a year-round maintenance plan.

Bird Counts

The activity Count Your Birds was designed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO) to work as a service-learning project based on the Classroom BirdWatch Program. Students participate in ornithological research by identifying and counting birds in their schoolyard or neighborhood. This data is then submitted to scientists at the CLO. In addition to contributing to research efforts aimed at understanding bird populations, students learn bird identification and observation techniques and methods for recording and analyzing data.

Habitat Projects


Through schoolyard habitat projects, students
improve their schoolyard and neighborhood park
habitats in order to benefit birds. First students

research which birds live in their region and which

ones have the greatest conservation needs. After

determining the habitat needs for various species,

students decide how to best provide food, water,

and shelter for the birds. This project requires

taking an inventory of the existing habitat as well

as selecting and arranging additional elements, such as native plants, nesting boxes, and birdbaths.

Writing Articles

Students can write articles about conservation concerns of migratory birds to contribute to their school newspaper.



Purpose & Goals


Partners & Sponsors

Photo credit: Galveston Bay Foundation

Sample Activity

Bird Festivals

Press Room

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