Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Memorable 3rd Grade Experience

by Fred Wright

Approximately 15 years ago my daughter approached me with an idea too intriguing to pass up.  It involved her class of 3rd Graders at Crestwood Elementary School in Elyria, Ohio and their instruction in the differences between a question, a statement and an exclamation, the use of technology to communicate, math and Homing Pigeons.  Come on now, you know you saw that one coming didn’t you?

Without trying to brag too much about her ingenious idea let me try to throw in some details for clarification.  Our family (on her mother’s side) has been active in pigeon flying for at least 5 generations, mostly in the Greater Cleveland area with one emigrant to the Chattanooga Club.  So she is very familiar with the sport and the birds even though she never had any particular interest in competing with the birds.  But she is as smart as a whip (yeah, it comes from her Mother) and is one of those teachers we all hope our kids have in their lives.

Her idea was to incorporate a little history of homing pigeons into her lesson plan about what exactly a question consists of, then have each student write down a question regarding pigeons, pick 5 of those questions, have her Dad bring some of his team to her school for a little hands on experience for the kids along with a little spiel from the old man, let each interested student actually touch a bird (this has always been a magic moment for me because of the look on their faces), place those 5 questions in a WW II type message carrier, strap it to the bird and then try our best to synchronize the release. 

It takes a few minutes for the kids to get the knack of how to safely hold the birds but they are very good about just letting the bird go if it gets too squirmy for them to hold onto.  In all these years they have never once hurt a bird or damaged the feathers.  And for 99% of these young folks the only pigeons they know are the ones in barns and on wires.  When I ask them what their first impression is after touching the birds it is almost always, “They are soooo soft.”  Hence, that magic moment.

After the birds are out of sight I remind them of the time and the distance in miles to my loft.  I point out they need to remember these facts because after I answer their 5 questions now on the way to my loft, there will be a question from me for them to answer.

I answer their questions via email as part of the curriculum involving the use of technology.  My question to them is sent the same way.  I tell them the arrival time of the first bird and ask them to calculate the speed in MPH.  If they were 4th graders, I would probably go for the YPM calculation, but it’s a beginning.

And there you have the simplistic explanation for a complicated process.  My hope is some of our membership will see this as an opportunity to promote our sport. But more importantly, expose our hobby to the next generation and along the way help educate them in a very novel way.  If you do nothing else, I promise you will bring lots of smiles to lots of kids’ faces. 

My daughter will gladly share her lesson plan with any certified educator.  That’s another reason why her Mom and Dad are so proud of her and the work she does.

This year ended up a two day affair due to rain moving in unexpectedly on day one.  As you can clearly see from these pictures, they are thrilled by this experience.


Fred Wright, Triple W Loft, Independent Homing Club

Friday, June 1, 2018

Club Leadership

The leadership of the club may guide members to steer away from potential problems. The structure of the club will dictate how efficiently the club runs. The basic fundamentals of a club include election of leaders, the conduct of those leaders, and running the club smoothly. There will always be times when a decision will be made that may not please all members. However, there should be ways to mediate and to make change when appropriate.
For instance, if the majority of a club votes in favor of changing the time frame that members should arrive for basketing and there are one or two members that can’t meet that time, a compromise can be made. One club member that is able to attend basketing by the appropriate time might bring the birds for another member that can’t.

At the next annual meeting when a change may be voted on, bring up the issue, discuss it rationally and ask for a vote. In other words, you may not like a decision or vote, however, if the majority are in favor, it must be upheld. There will be an appropriate time to revisit the issue. Members should understand the majority rules and that there is always an opportunity to reconsider – at the appropriate time. Club officers are the leaders of the club and should set this example.

Your AU Board of Directors adhere to this. The AU utilizes the Board Action Request (BAR). This is a simple form members may use to submit a request to change a policy, race rule, by-law, or introduce a new program. The Board reviews BAR’s at each Board Meeting. If the BAR introduces something that will benefit the majority, the Board may vote to approve. There may be a Board Member that does not agree, however, the majority vote rules. That Board Member will uphold the new approved policy or race rule presented in the approved BAR, because the majority voted to approve. However, that Board Member has a right to resubmit for discussion at the next meeting.

It may be a good idea for your club to adopt a similar process. The bottom line - utilize the appropriate opportunities to request change. Don’t allow bickering once something is passed. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

The leaders of the club should be the first to set the example.

In order for any club to operate, there should be an atmosphere that is inviting. If club members are unhappy or uncertain of their responsibilities, relationships may be strained and members may leave.

A lot of clubs currently have a set of By-laws in place. Have you seen your club’s Bylaws? How long has it been since they were reviewed and updated? Do all members in your club have a copy to reference?

All clubs should have a Constitution and Bylaws with which to govern the club. The Bylaws may be very basic and need not be complicated. Having members work together to create by-laws means everyone has ownership. The Bylaws will serve as a tool in the event of a dispute.

The Bylaws should clearly define the offices for election, terms of office, special meetings and how to handle complaints.

Contact the AU office for assistance.  405-848-5801.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Auction to Benefit Youth

We can support the pigeon racing hobby by ensuring our youth have a good start and thereby perpetuate the sport for generations to come.  The Northwest Juniors Racing Pigeon Club is a great example of a project that has worked for over 15 years.

Jim Gabler shared that America's Dream Loft has a history of supporting the sport in many ways and their plan for the fall is an Auction of the Legions.  Jim said, "That auction will bring top donated birds and hopefully we can get only birds that are winners or who have bred winners.  It will be an internet auction followed by a live auction.  ADL will organize and do all the promotion and work with the income from the sale going to the kids."

The Northwest Juniors RPC was selected as the recipient based upon the founder's 16 years of experience doing the right things for kids.

They are looking forward to this happening in the fall, so keep an eye out for an opportunity to take part in a project that benefits the future of the hobby of racing homing pigeons.