By Vivian Olds
Dr. Richard Vineyard and I decided to put together a book, having students write and illustrate Nevada birds. In the past, we had put together a similar book with the help of students: “Insects of Nevada, an Alphabet Book.” For the new bird book, I taught the art and writing component, and Richard added the scientific information for each bird. We began putting it together last summer at Arts For All Nevada, where I freelance as a Teaching Artist. Last June (2021), I taught fifteen students from grades K-4 in the classroom at the Lake Mansion. I bought books about birds along with paper, magazines, and different media for the kids to experiment with. Everyone had a favorite bird story, including myself- one morning when I was leaving for a class, a white-crowned sparrow flew into my house. What to do! I opened the back door and slowly guided her back out. In retrospect, it turned out to be a good omen. By the end of that first class, I had collected several good bird drawings from the students. But something was missing… They needed to see real birds.
By that time, I had almost half of the birds I needed for the book. In January (2022), I taught art for three days at Gerlach K-12 school. The school has a small population and fantastic staff. I invited Alan and his wife and a friend of mine, Teresa, to join me. We had a wonderful time with the students. Once again, the kids were so interested in the birds. Doing the art projects was a challenge, however, because the town water department was working on the waterlines, and we had no water! But the Assistant Principal, Stacey Black, is very resourceful, and it all worked out. The next school I visited was Natchez Elementary School. After teaching there, I spent two days in Spring Creek with grades 4 and 5. Alan sent three boxes of taxidermy models with me. After that, I had enough bird drawings for two alphabet books! I am so grateful to all the wonderful Nevada students who submitted their artwork. Finally, I joined Alan as he taught an all-day class at Our Lady of Snows with 7th and 8th graders. I was a volunteer, along with Mary Luzier. Now, all that’s left is the process of organizing the book. I am self-publishing and seeking financial assistance.
Thanks to Lahontan Audubon Society for their interest in this project.
Dr. Richard Vineyard has degrees in Environmental Science, Biology, and Systematic Entomology. He publishes a blog, Science Starts with a Story.
Vivian Olds is a retired educator and a Teaching Artist. She owns a gallery, Desert Light Arts, and is a photographer.
Below are some of the birds that students have drawn for the book!