The "Other" World Wide Web

          Today is national Endangered Species Day. I'm not sure if we should celebrate on not. It's a
whooping crane
good thing we adopted the Endangered Species Act in 1973. It's not a good thing that we had to do so. But bringing about awareness of those animals and plants whose numbers are dwindling is necessary.
          When I began teaching seventh-grade science in 1986, several students baulked over a situation that had been occurring in our community in the Hill Country west of Austin. A huge development had been approved in an environmentally sensitive area. Two endangered bird species, the black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler, nested in and near the habitat where the development was going in. Many of my students couldn't understand the concern of folks who started a campaign to protect the birds. I heard comments such as, "What's the big deal over saving two stupid little birds?" or "The birds can just nest someplace else."       
          This topic was discussed during my environment and ecosystem unit. Sometimes I felt like I was pulling teeth to get them to understand that all forms of life are linked together like one giant web. I showed them nature videos, assigned them food webs to design, and I told them about plants such as the rosy periwinkle that helped cure cancer-causing diseases. Those first few years in the classroom, I often went home frustrated at the student's lack of understanding and empathy.
          I'm happy to say that over the years, their attitudes changed. I no longer had to convince students the importance of conservation. They understood the worldwide connection of all living things and my environment and ecosystem unit became one of their favorites. I'm convinced their change in attitude came from educators and conservationists who strove to bring about environmental awareness and understanding. 
          What's your favorite endangered species and what is being done to to save it?
          For endangered species festivals and events around the country, click on to the following link.

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