What a thoughtful gift!

By Meghan Overdeep
September 22, 2017

There are 12 students in the fourth grade at Dauphin Island Elementary School in Alabama, and every single one of them has a brand new pair of binoculars. Now, all 12 of them can participate in a favorite local pastime on the small Gulf Coast island: birdwatching.

The binoculars were a gift to Susan Watt's 4th-grade class from a group of avid area birdwatchers. Dena and Don McKee, president of the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries board Ralph Havard, and longtime birding enthusiast Eugenia Carey all contributed to the effort, AL.com reports.

The idea was Dena's. She told AL.com that she was inspired after meeting a woman on a cruise whose teenage son is one of the nation's top birders. "I said I'd love for every kid on Dauphin Island to have a pair," she recalled.

Each pair of 8x42 Eagle Optics binoculars cost $100, and the students got $20 field guides to go with them. The binoculars will stay in the classroom until the end of the year, at which point they'll be allowed to bring them home. "Hopefully you'll use them for years to come when you bird-watch," Don told the students while presenting them with their new binoculars this week, adding: "the best birders start young, when their eyes and ears are good."

The class will go on a few birdwatching trips throughout the year, but most students will have no problem finding amazing winged creatures in their own backyards. "You could not be in a better spot for birdwatching," Don added. And he's not joking. The entirety of Dauphin Island is a bird sanctuary, and is considered one of the top 10 birding spots in the United States. Mayor Jeff Collier noted that birding "is a big part of our local economy," and stressed how important it is that children learn how to be "good stewards of the environment."

"Maintaining birding opportunities is something worthwhile for us to do," he told the class. "We're thankful for the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries' donation to the fourth grade."