Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Can Children Do to Help?

We often get this question from parents whose children are budding veterinarians, environmentalists and Dr. Doolittles. One way that children can help directly is by participating in our Baby Bird Feeding Junior Volunteer program. This program requires that children be at least 14 years of age or 12 and 13 with a parent or guardian. The wonderful thing is that many children want to start helping at much younger ages that this! While they can’t volunteer to do animal care at the Center, they can help the wildlife in other ways. We are currently in the process of designing a hub on our site made just to recognize these enterprising young individuals. We hope that their caring and outlook on the world will inspire others to join us in helping our wild neighbors. If you have any suggestions for what would be helpful to include in this section please let us know. Whether it’s an idea we include right away or one we add down the road, we’d like to hear it!
So what if you are a kid who cares and want some suggestions on how to help now; or perhaps you already participated in helping us raise so many baby birds over the summer but you’d still like to help out this fall; what if you are looking for ways to help right now?

Here are some ideas:
  • Pick greens. Dandelions, clovers, plantain, and wide-blade grasses are important foods for cottontails and woodchucks. Just pick them into a plastic shopping bag and tie shut. Refrigerate until you can them to the Center. We can’t get enough dandelion greens for our hundreds of juvenile cottontails. It is their favorite food and helps cure diarrhea.

  • Gather native seeds, nuts or berries the next time you go with your family on a hike. These are foods many of our patients are used to, making them feel safer and eat better. Be sure you identify the plant you are picking from before doing so, to avoid anything that may be poisonous! Stay off of private property as well. And most importantly, please remember to leave some for the wild neighbors who live in those areas as well!

  • Grow food materials, even though it’s getting chilly you could still plant some greens or plan to plant sunflowers, greens or veggies next spring for our wild patients.

  • The next time it rains, head out of doors and gather up some of the night crawlers and earthworms from the sidewalk. Birds of all kinds love to eat them including our patients! If you prefer not to gather living animals, put them back in the yard. They will help the soil and the local birds may catch them on their own later.

  • If your family trims any trees such as elm, oak, willow and apple or thin raspberry and blackberry thickets, ask them if you can gather the branches. Squirrels and cottontails eat the leaves and bark and the branches are good for chewing exercise.

Be sure to check our website whenever you need information about your wild neighbors or the Wildlife In Need Center. And, although we may not be able to incorporate them all, if you have suggestions on how to make our site better we will always listen. Finally, for those “big kid” volunteers, be sure to check out our volunteer pages. They are still under construction, but I’m sure you’ll find more helpful information than you remember!

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