Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon Florida, reported to Historic City News that he recently brought congratulations and gifts for St Augustine’s youngest bird steward, 9-year-old John Brice.
At the age of 4-years-old, Brice began accompanying his grandmother, Peggy Cook, to the few remaining beaches in St Johns County where threatened Least Terns scrape shallow nests on the sand. He was so small when he first began helping protect beach-nesting birds that his uniform-vest trailed in the water as he would wade along the shore.
“Right now he’s planning a class presentation on birds,” Cook told reporters. “When his teacher says to get out something to read, John pulls out a field guide.” He still calls his grandmother from the car on the way to school with a morning bird report.
Today, the third grader volunteers as a bird steward, educating beachgoers about Florida’s coastal wildlife and providing opportunities for them to view birds at a safe distance with binoculars. He also helps protects birds from dogs and other potential hazards.
Audubon Florida will honor Brice this month as “Junior Volunteer of the Year” at the 2012 Audubon Assembly in Sarasota, according to Draper. The National Audubon Society will feature him in this year’s Audubon Adventures — a 3rd-5th grade environmental education curriculum used in 4,000 classrooms nationwide.