Youth Education

Jacob Ewert (front left) and Felicia Lee (back center left) with teacher Sharon Kuchinski (back center right), all current or previous board members, with Rawlings Elementary students at Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

In a partnership with Rawlings Elementary School–a low-income and Title 1 school–AAS Board Members Felicia Lee and Jacob Ewert expanded on the educational birding program that Sharon Kuchinski initiated for her students. During the 2021-2022 school year, Felicia and Jacob led bird walks around the surprisingly “birdy” Rawlings school campus. The grand finale activity was a bird outing to Sweetwater Wetlands Park that was led by Felicia and Jacob. AAS financed the bus transportation and the students used the collection of binoculars that were donated to Sweetwater by AAS. More AAS-led bird activities occurred at Rawlings Elementary for the 2022/2023 school year.

Similar to the Rawlings bird program but on a much larger scale, AAS financed bus transportation during the 2022/2023 school year for classes from four elementary schools to travel to Sweetwater Wetlands Park and Morningside Nature Center, where park staff implemented their exceptional nature-based educational programs. As we explored ways in which to offer bird and nature programs to young students, particularly those at under-served schools, we discovered that transportation funding was frequently the limiting factor. AAS is excited to partner with the Friends of Nature Parks and the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs to bring birds and nature to young students throughout Gainesville!

Gainesville High School teachers, Maggie Paxson and Leigh Larson, started a high school-level birding program by installing an array of bird feeding stations outside of their classrooms and leading their students on periodic after-school bird outings. AAS donated a spotting scope for the students to more closely admire the birds that visit the feeders outside their classrooms. AAS also supports Maggie and Leigh’s high school bird program by donating $50 each month for bird seed. We will also join in on their bird outings should they need additional field trip leaders and provide loaner binoculars for the students’ use.

Stephanie Hornbuckle and Tim Hardin lead kids at Cuscowilla Summer Camp.

Alachua Audubon facilitated another youth program in 2022, leading weekly bird walks for the Cuscowilla Summer Camp (formerly Camp McConnell) near Micanopy. Board Member Tim Hardin, and AAS volunteer Stephanie Hornbuckle, guided the young summer campers as they explored the exciting world of birds and nature.

Have an idea for a youth education program? Please send an email to