Learning about apex predators with Champions for Wildlife

Published 12:13 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Inspiring kids to care more about nature is the vision of Champions for Wildlife. As they continue their Wild for Art programs in area schools, Education Coordinator Alexis Hinchliffe has guided students through various topics, concluding the fall semester with teaching afterschool sessions about the top predators in our regional animal kingdom.

Afterschool students in grades K-8 have been quick to identify animals that are key hunters endemic to our area. Native predators in North Carolina, besides humans, are black bears, coyotes, red and gray foxes, bobcats and the endangered red wolves. We also have birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles, owls and other raptors, that control populations of smaller animals.

We don’t often see many of the apex predators, yet they play crucial roles in maintaining balance and biodiversity in our environment. Students have been learning how these animals are important, mainly because they keep prey populations in check. Just think of the destruction and disease that could occur if no animals ate insects, mice and other rodents!

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Through their Wild for Art interactive approach, Champions for Wildlife staff and volunteers lead students through hands-on learning activities with each lesson, such as games, word puzzles, and a fun art project introduced with each session. 

Kids’ faces light up, and hands are raised and wave excitedly to respond. Students team up to eagerly match animal tracks with the creature that made them. Each art project allows their individual creativity to unfold. Then follows the bright swirl of accomplishment, pride, and success in making their own unique wildlife art. Seeing that spark leaves such an impression!

Doesn’t it seem important to encourage our younger generations to protect wildlife? Sharing knowledge that encourages kids to consider our surrounding natural world inspires them to become better stewards of our environment. That is the process and the goal, the “why” of Champions for Wildlife. 

A crew of reliable volunteers enthusiastically help with art activities, including Cathy Brettman, Ellen Douglas, Elise Fillpot, Rob Fuller, Jess Glasscock, Denise Harwell, Debbie Junge, Cam Lawrence, Shannon Lindsey, Millie O’Brien, Lynne Parsons and David Riddle, who have all assisted in the schools this fall. 

A web of supporters is essential to keep the organization functioning. The program is funded in part through the Forbes Foundation, Polk County Community Foundation, First Horizon Bank, Rotary Club of Tryon and Kiwanis Club of Tryon. Donations are welcome to help sustain and expand services to more children in our area. As an incentive, matching funds are available this month online or and can be sent to Champions for Wildlife at PO Box 128, Lynn, NC, 28750.

To keep up with all the exciting things happening and learn about ways you can be a champion for wildlife please visit www.championsforwildlife.org or contact loti@championsforwildlife.org.


Submitted by Karen Dacey