Students sew items for wildlife center

Bristol Township School District  |  Posted on

Spring 2021 baby squirrels are snug and safe in a joey pouch sewn by a Truman student.

The Australian wildfires orphaned and displaced many animals last year, giving Beth Hartwick, a teacher at Harry S. Truman High School, an idea for her students to give back and provide a cozy home for animals. Her Basic Clothing students in grades 10-12, sewed joey pouches for a wildlife rescue in Australia, but then COVID-19 hit. When school resumed to a hybrid model months later, the need for joey pouches at the Australian rescue was not as great. Instead, Hartwick donated the pouches to a different need and one that is local to Bucks County: flying squirrels.

To stay warm in the winter, flying squirrels often take refuge in attics and garages, which can cause a lot of damage to property. Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, a nonprofit organization in Bucks County, takes in many flying squirrels in their clinic and releases them back into the wild in the spring. Aark needed the joey pouches to provide a warm home for the squirrels while they spent the winter in their care. Hartwick said her students welcomed the project and made about 100 joey pouches on sewing machines. Since many students do not have sewing machines at home, students will hand-sew them this year utilizing haute couture and quilting hand-sewing techniques.

Later this year, the basic clothing class will crochet and knit baby bird nests for Aark to help the many birds who fall out of their nests. These projects are some of the many Project Based Learning (PBL) assignments that Hartwick’s students will complete. “Project Based Learning offers students a forum to design and create useful products, either for themselves or someone else,” said Hartwick. “Students really like to see the direct impact of their efforts and like learning skills that they can use further along in their education or life.”