Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A kid from Chicago

Although we are not set up to be open to the public we are still happy to encourage the learning and respect that come from getting the opportunity to see (and interact) with our wild neighbors.

That’s why I agreed to have a young gentleman and his younger sister come in one day this summer with their extended family with whom he was staying for the weekend. The adults in the group explained that the kids were from Chicago so while visiting, they were looking for as many opportunities as possible to get them outside to see both animals and nature.

As I mentioned, and many of you know, anytime the public gets beyond the doors of our office it is a rare situation as we are not permitted to operate as a nature center or zoo. Several of our permitted educational ambassadors are housed in or near our office however, and they also work with people all year long through scheduled educational outreach programs. Because of this and the fact that the beautiful weather was helping to keep our wild neighbors out of trouble (the office was not too busy) I agreed to speak with them for a short time about the Center and share some of these ambassadors with them.

First they were introduced to the Center and what we do. Currently, our office is home to Slither, a Western Fox Snake, Maize, a Corn Snake, and Jewel, an Ornate Box Turtle (an endangered species in Wisconsin). Although some people get a little squeamish around reptiles and amphibians, most children are naturally curious and giving them the opportunity to interact with animals who have been trained to work with people helps to give them a more positive outlook and respect for these creatures who serve an important purpose in our lives.

Next, we walked outside to check on Dakota, our educational Great Horned Owl and Indigo, our educational American kestrel in their outdoor enclosures. The young man was absolutely fascinated by Dakota as he had never seen an owl in person before. Lastly, we stopped by the outdoor enclosure of Waldo, our educational Woodchuck. Waldo was lounging in his hollow log to keep cool in the midday sun but was content to have us enjoy him from afar. The entire family was thrilled by the concept of being able to see such an animal so close up, especially such a handsome specimen.

With construction of our new facility including an entirely new educational wing we are calling “the gathering area,” we hope to have this kind of impact on many more young people who may never have these opportunities otherwise. Our hope is that the educational experience itself will be enhanced exponentially through displays, video monitors, interactive materials and more. If you would like to help support our educational mission please consider making a donation to help cover the cost of these new materials, tools and books. You can do so online or over the phone with a credit card or by mail. You can also stop by our current location any day of the week between 9AM and 5PM. For more information about our education outreach program or our new facility visit our website.

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