Hi everyone!

We've finally embedded our scrapbook online, thanks to some genius tricks by Project Manager Alice Wu!

If you want to see it, the link is: http://issuu.com/sdburrowingowls/docs/save_the_owls_project

It is also embedded in this blog post! For the actual embedding, please click on "Project" in our tabs (not Phase I or Phase II, just Project) and enjoy! Thanks for all your awesome support!

We just got word from Cape Coral Burrowing Owls in Florida, which set up a project like our Phase 1 work last year.  Their project is apparently thriving as well, and their footage of burrowing owls chicks is simply adorable.  It's really amazing that this technique is working in other places too, since, as we mentioned, our method of building burrows with ground squirrels was really one of the first biomimetic methods of creating new habitats.

Anyway, we are looking forward to seeing how their babies will be doing in the future!  The juveniles appear to be maturing quite well, and our Florida partners appear to be quite excited about the possibilities of successfully creating still more colonies in the future!

At the moment, they have one functional burrow in operation, but their live webcam captures everything about it.  You can see it here: capecoralburrowingowls.com.  If only the construction companies could see all the funny and endearing antics of the burrowing owls... maybe then the laws would be changed much faster.  Honestly, how will the environment fare without these adorable creatures?  It's almost unthinkable that people will brutally murder innocent owls for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It just goes to show how important our work is, and how necessary it is that we keep it up!
... goes international!  After our cram session yesterday to get the poster and all our materials set up, our presentation day finally opened up!

We just got back from around four hours of presenting, and seriously, just walking through that room could be a great learning experience.  People have raised thousands of dollars for important causes, rebuilt parts of their neighborhoods, even altered the bus routes within their cities.  We just tallied our fundraising efforts up today, trying to count up all our merchandise and donations, and incredibly, we have raised $8308!  We never really expected to raise that much money, and this is simply over the top.  Thank you to all our generous sponsors and donors!  Every penny of your money is going to a good cause.

That said, we were also contacted by BirdLife International in the midst of our preparations, and never posted about it.  It seems that our method is starting to attract attention around the world!  I really hope that other communities will start a project like ours.  It's an amazing growing experience, even if people don't compete.  We really learned to organize, and I learned to really lead and plan as Project Manager.  I don't think any of us could have done it without community support, but operating solo like this,  just a bunch of high school students together trying to save a whole species, really jolts us back into the real world.  Things may seem to be running smoothly on the surface, but many of the internal workings are grinding slowly to a halt.

That's how I would describe the burrowing owl's influence in our ecosystems, though its slow disappearance has caused ecological cycles to slow so much that the environment is already seeing huge decreases in productivity, among other negative effects.  If others could start projects like ours, we could bring the burrowing owl back from the brink of extinction and save our ecosystems from the agony of this disruption.  We will continue expanding, and hopefully our early successes only foreshadow greater comebacks for the burrowing owl in the future!




We're at the International Conference!

Today we're hectically preparing our poster display and other materials to spread awareness about the burrowing owl all over the world!  Handing out flyers and gathering our poster supplies was just the beginning of our work here.  We've been talking to people about our project already, and the Community Problem Solving Fair isn't even until Friday!  Kudos to our awesome Project Manager, Alice Wu, who's really organizing and putting everything together for us.

This is really an amazing place to be.  Everyone has done something amazing in their communities, whether Environmental or Civic, or a mixture of both.  It's been an enlightening experience to be able to talk to these people, to find out about their community issues and experiences and see what they've done to change their worlds.  People seemed amazed by our project as well, listening to our description of partnering with world renowned organizations to implement our ideas.  Frankly, we're so lucky to be able to be in the company of people that are contributing in such real ways back to their areas.  It's fascinating to talk to them, and we've already gotten a few good ideas to even further expand our cause!




Oh my goodness!  We just got news from Florida that their starter burrow, modeled on our Phase I project, has a case of successful burrowing owl breeding and reproduction in their colony!  There are six juveniles in Cape Coral right now, thriving and having a wonderful chickhood in their burrow right now.

Please see our March post for more info!  You can check out their site at capcoralburrowingowls.com.  Be sure to look into the live webcam to see their adorable owlets!  This is such an exciting step in the conservation of this important species.  It's really unimaginable for us right now... my team and I are just going crazy over this new development.  We never dreamed our project would work so well in other areas as well!  Perhaps continuing this technique will allow us to restore the burrowing owl to its former glory, and people will be able to see the improvements they will make on the environment around them.  Congratulations to the Cape Coral Burrowing Owl group on your successes, and we hope to hear more from you in the future!
Today we went out to film some clips for the documentary in the field!  It was great and very fun, though hard to coordinate and get all the interviews in.  Overall though, it went very well.  We're really eager to see how it turns out in the end!  We will be posting our drafts of our documentary in various links later on, so keep an eye out for those!
We've come a long way since the initial sketches of "Burrow Me Out". (www.owlgame.weebly.com) I'm proud to say that it's now up on the web for preliminary beta testing! We originally envisioned a true, Choose Your Own Adventure game, with various pathways to success, but have only put up a single "true path" (all wrong options will lead to an "Oops" page prompting game players to conduct more research and choose the definitive, correct answer) on the web. Obviously, there is more than one correct option, but we want to keep things simple, at least for beta testing. When we officially, fully unveil "Burrow Me Out", more paths to success, that is, an owl colony, will likely be introduced. 

It occurred to us that "Burrow Me Out" might be a strange name. There may not seem to be any clear relationship to the Western Burrowing Owl other than the fact that if you repeat "Burrow Me Out" several times in a row quickly, it sounds something like "burrowing owls."  Our choice of game name stems from the desire to create something kid-friendly, as well as genuinely fun and conducive to learning. We attempt to portray the efforts of the San Diego Zoo as accurately and simplistically as possible, so as to provide an opportunity for the general public to learn about their ground-squirrels-as-ecoengineers-for-burrowing-owl initiative.
So far we've contacted: JournOwl, the Biodiversity Network, BirdLife International, the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, Wild At Heart Owls, Cape Coral Burrowing Owls, On the Wing Photography, Wildcare Bay Area, California Audobon Society, Red Rock Audobon Society, and all local newspapers and magazines including, but not limited to, the San Diego Union-Tribune, Carmel Valley NOW!, Carmel Valley News Report, 92130 Magazine, ZooNooz, Del Mar Union-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, etc.

We are awaiting replies and responses.
Today we started contacting conservation organizations and publications, starting with the San Diego Union Tribune and local newspapers, and going to global organizations like the Defenders of Wildlife Fund and Sierra Club.  We are now proud members of the Defenders of Wildlife activist group and Sierra Club Network.  We are also part of the World Wildlife Fund's Activist Network now!  Search us up and join in our efforts!
We finalized our documentary script today, and also converted all our HD movie clips into more manageable files.  We went through the clips today together as a team to pick out the useable ones in our documentary.  We also determined who would do voiceovers and cut down the script to be more documentary-like.  I can tell this will be a great documentary!