By Elana Warsen
OSCODA COUNTY – Biologists from the U.S. Forest Service visited third grade classrooms in Mio and Fairview to promote the 2016 Kirtland’ Warbler Young Artists Artwork Contest. The contest, open to students in grades K-8, solicits entries of original artwork that ‘demonstrate an understanding of northern Michigan’ unique jack pine forest ecosystem, the Kirtland’ Warbler, or any other creatures that dwell in the jack pine forest.’
Selected artwork will be used for products and promotional materials, including a 2016-2017 Kirtland’ Warbler Young Artists calendar.
Third graders also received an educational presentation about the Kirtland’ Warbler and other species that share the jack pine ecosystem. ‘Children are the future of conservation,’ Wildlife Biologist Scott Warsen said. ‘We want to engage them at a young age and let them connect with a rare bird species that is found right in their hometown.’
The Kirtland’ Warbler was nearly extinct as recently as 30 years ago. Today it breeds almost exclusively in Northeast Lower Michigan, with a small number found in the Upper Peninsula and parts of Wisconsin and Ontario. The warbler depends on large tracts of young jack pine forest to successfully reproduce. ‘Our region is special because it offers prime habitat for Kirtland’ Warbler,’ Warsen said.
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