By Guest Blogger Maya Castillo
The interactive and supportive teaching style of Alvaro and support staff built a collaborative learning environment I felt welcome in. The teaching staff made time for questions that reinforced and built upon the intended curriculum. Alvaro was receptive and adaptable to our relative levels of bird anatomy and zoology, and never moved forward without placing the bird we were learning about in the greater context of the Shorebird family in the Bay. His walkthroughs on everyday ID-ing challenges like the Dunlin and Western Sandpiper gave me confidence in my ability to apply the knowledge I learned when on my own.
As a Bay Area resident during the months before COVID-19, this workshop also helped ease the homesickness and grief of having my first year in college cut short. Learning about Bay Area shorebirds tethered me to my limited time learning about its natural ecosystems in person, in a way that my virtual schoolwork could not. Moreover, it tethered me to the physical space that is the beautiful Bay, even while I am safely at home in Los Angeles. With each day of the workshop, it was comforting to learn more information about my avian neighbors to practice until my next visit in person.
I would like to thank the donors of the scholarship fund for their support of my growth over the course of the workshop. Your support has been invaluable in removing barriers for underrepresented minorities such as myself while supporting organizations like SFBBO in their mission to extend interest in birding to all communities. As a Latina interested in educational equity and knowledge of the land and its beings, being selected for the scholarship - and every moment since - has increased my confidence in further pursuing the natural sciences and reinvigorated my drive to ensure that knowledge is shared with others.
Maya Castillo is a rising sophomore at Stanford University interested in ethnic studies and environmental sustainability. They credit the docent-training course at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve for exposing them to birding enthusiasts and inspiring their own interest in learning about local birds. They are a proud recipient of an SFBBO scholarship for the Introductory Shorebird ID Workshop in late July 2020 with Alvaro Jaramillo.
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