Nebraska’s Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) recently partnered to provide education resources to help educators across the state teach students about peregrine falcons, their role in the ecosystem, and how peregrines have adapted to survive in the wild.
The peregrine falcon was added to the endangered species list in the 1970s, but was able to survive due to extensive conservation efforts that helped advance its growth in numbers.
A family of peregrines currently live on OPPD’s North Omaha Station. The public power utility set up a live webcam with footage that can be viewed on Facebook, YouTube, and on OPPD’s website. The livestream has attracted thousands of viewers from across the country each year.
OPPD planned to develop a poster detailing the family tree of peregrines living on their north tower. OPPD staff reached out to NGPC to see if they would be interested in partnering on the project.
Staff members at OPPD provided creative services in designing the poster and gathering information for it. The poster was sent to NGPC experts for review before final printing.
While OPPD worked on finalizing the poster, NGPC worked to create several lesson plans focusing on grades 2-12.
The lesson plans for younger students are designed to teach them about peregrine falcons by using researching and writing skills. The middle school lesson plans teach students about wildlife adaptations and the adaptations that make peregrine falcons successful hunters and flyers. The lesson plan for older students aims to teach them about population dynamics and emphasizes the impact of pesticides on peregrine falcon populations through the last 100 years.
NGPC fish and wildlife education division administrator Lindsay Rogers said the peregrine falcons, like all wildlife species, are important to NGPC because of their unique role in the ecosystem. She said the ability for viewers to watch the peregrine nest in real time is a great way to highlight how people are connected through shared spaces with wildlife animals.
“Our goal with these resources is to provide teachers and students with background information and meaningful educational resources to engage students in learning about Nebraska’s wildlife species while also gaining an understanding of their role in conserving wildlife species and natural resources,” Rogers said.
OPPD wildlife and natural resources specialist Chris Vrtiska said OPPD’s involvement in the peregrine project aligns with the utility’s broader environmental efforts.
“Our mission is to provide affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services,” Vrtiska said. “This partnership with Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and our educational outreach, are excellent examples of OPPD’s efforts to be good stewards of and enhance the environment.”
All lesson plans are available for download at: http://outdoornebraska.gov/peregrinefalconlessonplans/
Nebraska teachers can request the poster on NGPC’s website as well.
In addition to OPPD’s peregrine collaboration with NGPC, the utility is currently partnering with the Nebraska state agency on an Osprey Nest Camera project at OPPD’s Fort Calhoun Station. OPPD built an artificial nest structure earlier this year to replace a structure that a pair of ospreys were using for nesting that was demolished as part of Fort Calhoun Station’s decommissioning.