Photo © Keith Williams
Photo © Mary Jane Davis

New Jersey High Schoolers Do Science

This year marks the 25th year that students and alumni volunteers from Red Bank Catholic High School in Red Bank, New Jersey, have been monitoring nesting birds. Under the direction of AP biology teacher Mary Jane Davis, students have been designing and constructing nest boxes from both wood and PVC and installing them in Dorbrook Park. Each year, the students gather data and submit it to NestWatch.

Now in its third decade, the program has contributed more than 380 nest attempts from 51 nest boxes (39 boxes are still in use). The top three species monitored are Tree Swallow, House Wren, and Eastern Bluebird. “Students have been involved since the beginning, and many continue to participate as alumni,” Davis said.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has frequently seen that participating in authentic, meaningful citizen-science projects can have a lifelong impact on young learners. The leadership of teachers like Mary Jane Davis, who began the nest box trail in 1993, is critical to introducing STEM concepts and civic engagement to young people. In this case, the students have access to their very own long-term study system and data set.

Please join us in thanking Red Bank Catholic High School, and the many other schools that are participating in NestWatch. Mary Jane and her entire class have been given access to one of our most popular Bird Academy online courses for free as a “thank you” for their good efforts.