Monday, July 5, 2010

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 07/06/2010

I know. I know. Liberty Wildlife doesn’t do educational programming in the summer…well almost never does programming in the summer. But, sometimes it just has to happen. A couple of weeks ago Max Bessler and Joe Miller loaded up the wildlife ambassadors and headed up north….you see it is cooler for the birds, less stress, and it happened to be a perfect audience. What is a better setting than the out-of- doors and campers in the Apache Sitgraves National Forest? The actual setting was Fool Hollow Lake Recreational Area camp ground at Lakeside. An assembled group of about 150 people gathered to see what other critters they might be sharing their campground with, and they were happily awed by a bald eagle, great horned owl, kestrel, a red tail and a screech owl. The ranger for that area, Shaun, wrote back to say that he drove through the campground after the program, and it was the talk of every campsite. This was a second appearance there for Liberty Wildlife and already there is another invitation for an August program.

The second rare sighting of the Liberty education group in the summer involved no travel, no loading in travel boxes and no hitting the road to cooler climes. It did, however, involve another cool and very appropriate appearance of some native animals. Our educators, Wendy Bozzi, Linda Scott, Craig Fischer, Terry Stevens, Jan Miller, and Joe Miller traveled all of the way out to the street to be a stop and a stationery participant in the traditional neighborhood Fourth of July Parade. It is one of those things that just make my heart sing. I passed the assembling of the parade on my way in and upon arrival was handed the camera to memorialize it (thus the less than stellar photos of the event…not Terry’s fault).

Then the cry rang out, “Here they come!” and down the street came an assemblage of neighbors. The first group was the horses, resplendent with red, white and blue sparkly hooves, or painted like Indian ponies with stars, stripes, and other appropriate décor. They were magnificent. Next to appear were the tricycles, bikes, and wagons all bedecked in red, white, and blue bows, ribbons, and spangly things. Dogs riding in bicycle baskets, walking on leashes, or donning festive head gear greeted us next…everyone behaved and made their families proud! There were, of course, the walkers sprinkled through the crowd in various forms of regalia. What a sight!

We provided wildlife that they might see in their yards, a turkey vulture, a great horned owl, a Harris’ hawk, a one year old bald eagle, a three year old bald eagle, and a twenty two year old bald eagle (well maybe not eagles in their backyards but not far away). What better way to promote pride in the USA than “showing our colors” in the form of native wildlife and in particular, our national symbol. As the kids rounded the corner they began to shout gleefully, “Look Mommy there’s an owl”. (….and Mommy says, “What sound does and owl make?”), or is that a bald eagle? A mini educational lesson ensued in each case. They loved it! And, so did we!!!

Everyone stopped to talk, to tell us stories of animals they have brought in over the years, and to tell us how glad they were that we were around. I understand that the entire picnic conversation at the conclusion of last year’s parade was about the stationery exhibit that was part of the parade. It is so true that everyone raves about us once they have had the chance to engage with our ambassadors.

Summer or not, these were two wonderful occasions to bring out our educators and their ambassadors.

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