The San Diego International Airport is donating a new children’s book to
all public elementary school libraries in San Diego County.
“Laverne, the Runway Stowaway” was written and illustrated by airport
staff members Judy McSweeney and Sharon Gonzales, respectively, and it
tells the story of Laverne the Least Tern, an endangered California
Least Tern who nests at the airport.
It’s the latest in a series of books published by the airport as part of
the Airport Explorers program, an ongoing effort to encourage students’
interest in aviation. The book will be available for purchase in the
spring next year.
In a ceremony at Perkins Elementary School, San Diego County Regional
Airport Authority President and CEO Thella Bowens said, “We are pleased
to offer this educational resource to our county libraries and schools.
“Told from the perspective of an adventurous dog and his feathered
friend (Laverne), the story of this endangered chick helps our local
students understand the importance of ecological preservation and
sustainability at the airport.”
At Perkins School, author McSweeney read a portion of the book to an
excited group of youngsters. Before McSweeney spoke, the students heard
from Zoological Society of San Diego Least Tern Biologist Robert Patton,
who explained some of the bird’s habits and where and how they next at
the airport. Also in attendance at Perkins was the book’s illustrator,
The airport works closely with Patton and staff of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service on its preservation efforts. And as a result of those
efforts, the airport’s least tern nesting site is one of the most
productive in Southern California. The site is located at the
southeastern end of the runway, close to San Diego Bay.
A total of 139 least tern nests were established at the airport this
year. The airport has established guidelines for all airport, tenant
and contractor activities near those nests during the months of the
birds’ nesting season, which runs from April to September.
The Airport Explorers program, coordinated by McSweeney, provides
educational opportunities for children of all ages, helping them gain an
understanding and appreciation for aviation achievements. The program
offers air field tours, a YMCA summer camp for 5-8-year-olds, and an
airport station at the Junior Achievement organization’s BizTown. For
more information on Airport Explorers, go to www.airportexplorers.com.