A Message From Our Founder


I spend a lot of time thinking about how Kestrel can best serve our community, and what unique gifts we have to offer. Returning to the organization after a short leave has given me some insight into these questions.

What we do best is help cultivate the core skills needed to become and remain ecologically literate citizens: sensory awareness, imagination, and systems thinking. We focus on tuning into the world around us and using it to practice solving real problems and making real discoveries. This helps students to be present in the here and now, as well as to prepare for solving future problems in a rapidly changing world. It requires looking beyond the obvious, seeking patterns others might not have noticed, figuring out how disparate things might be connected, and effectively communicating findings.

Jessica with a group of students from our popular nature filmmaking class - Lights. Camera. Nature!

Jessica with a group of students from our popular nature filmmaking class - Lights. Camera. Nature!

One of our favorite projects is making a handmade, layered ecological map. Our maps show basic landmarks, with living things we discovered and the surroundings in which we discovered them, layered on top. Sometimes we add temperatures, soil types, or shade and sunlight. This kind of project consistently brings all our students, and their teachers, to life. When everyone realizes the answer has not yet been found and that all their contributions will be unique and valued, they begin to poke around, to find things, to follow their own questions, to bring back what they find. They talk to each other, argue with one another, find common ground. These are the true fundamentals of ecological literacy, because students are learning the skills they need to make complex decisions both in the present and in the future.

Truly, while I often wish for infinite (or even finite) funding, I enjoy being part of this small, agile organization. We have an amazing group of talented people who are open to new ideas, who love to play in the woods with kids, who are connected to nature themselves, and who learn from one another every day.

Thanks for visiting us, and I wish you many happy adventures.


Jessica Kagle
Founder & Program Director