Field trips and activities give students and the general public the chance to interact with wildlife in the field and learn new skills. Below are some of the activities we have done with schools, youth groups and the general public. To find out how to schedule an activity with us, contact us.
Wildlife Photography/Macro Photography Workshop
This session teaches the basics of wildlife photography and macro (close-up) photography in the field and using a miniature “photo studio” for macro photography. Participants learn about the use of light, principles of composition and optics and how to approach wildlife in the field. The techniques used are applicable to whatever photo equipment is available, whether it is a DSLR, point and shoot or phone camera.
Instruction primarily takes place in the field, photographing wildlife in its natural habitat. Insects and other invertebrates can also be collected for photography in a portable mini-studio set up on the premises (and subsequently released). An introduction to photo editing and review of photos can also be done on premises, or as part of a follow-up “classroom” session.
Wildlife education is incorporated into the workshop through identification and life histories of the species encountered and discussion of the site’s ecosystem. The photography skills learned are applicable to wildlife photography, and also everyday photography or photography as a hobby or career.
Wildlife Census Workshop
This session offers an introduction to wildlife research in the form of a census, and can potentially result in the collection of valuable scientific data. For this workshop, the exact type of census may vary. Here are a couple examples:
• A census of Anolis lizards at the Port de Plaisance Resort. PdP is home to both native species of Anolis (A. pogus and A. gingivinus) as well as the introduced Puerto Rican Crested Anole (A. cristatellus). The goal of the census would be conduct a count of all three species in the area (A. cristatellus is currently found only at this resort) and develop a better understanding of how the three species are interacting and competing. Surveys around the edges of the property would determine the full range of A. cristatellus, and if it is currently expanding its range and potentially threatening our native species. This session teaches the biology of anoles, as well as principles like adaptive radiation, invasive species colonization and inter-species competition.
• A census of migratory shorebirds in a wetland location (e.g., Salines d’Orient at Le Galion). At various times of year, many species of shorebird are stopping on St. Martin during their migration from their summer breeding grounds in North America to their overwintering grounds in South America. This island, and the rest of the Caribbean, plays an integral role as a stopover area where these birds can rest and feed. During this session participants learn methods for conducting a shorebird census and identification of the different shorebird species. Participants can also look for birds that are banded, and if sighted, these records can be submitted. It is often possible to learn the date and location where the bird was originally banded.
This workshop teaches field research techniques and is an opportunity to discuss the wildlife and conservation issues.
Interpretive Guiding Workshop
This workshop teaches the principles of wildlife interpretation in the field. Interpretation in this context is the act of using a theme to explain something (e.g., wildlife) in an organized, engaging manner rather than a disconnected bunch of facts or observations. The result is an experience that is more like a great documentary film than a boring lecture. It is a key skill for leading a guided tour.
The method of teaching is to do interpretive guiding on a hike through a forest environment while also explaining the process of interpretation. Participants may not be expected to have sufficient background to create their own interpretive stories about the wildlife, but would be able to learn the basic principles while also learning about local wildlife and ecosystems.