Participants of Hazelwood’s DARE/Risk Watch Camp were entertained recently with a bird show provided by representatives of the World Bird Sanctuary, based in Valley Park, Mo. For many of these young residents, entering 5th and 6th grade in the 2014-2015 school year, it was their first encounter of wild birds.
According to Ms. Cathy Spahm, naturalist and lead trainer for the World Bird Sanctuary, who presented the educational program, “We’re bringing nature to them. It’s a great way of teaching these kids how to respect wildlife. Many of them have never seen wild birds like this before. By helping children make that connection with the animals, they form a greater appreciation for the important ecological niche these birds have in our world.”
The World Bird Sanctuary rests peacefully on 305 acres of Missouri hardwood forest, next door to Lone Elk County Park. This facility has approximately 250 to 300 animals. A majority of them are birds, but the Sanctuary also cares for some reptiles, mammals and insects. Its four-pronged mission focuses on the following activities: 1) breeding birds for educational purposes and releasing them back into the wild; 2) studying local populations of birds; 3) rehabilitating sick or injured birds of prey; and 4) doing educational programs to teach more people about animals.
Spahm and her Sanctuary volunteer, Patti Sonntag, brought several birds with them to show the Hazelwood D.A.R.E. Summer Campers. The kids got a bird’s eye view of a vulture, a bald eagle, a raven, an owl, a screech owl, and a baby barn owl. For one of the demonstrations using a raven, Spahm picked a couple of the high school camp counselors to stand up and raise one of their arms like a perch and hold a recyclable item with the other hand. The raven flew to each counselor and landed on his/her arm, grabbed the item, and flew back dropping it inside a recycling container. Spahm used this to illustrate that ravens are considered the most intelligent birds, displaying high learning ability and use of logic for solving problems.
Hazelwood’s D.A.R.E./Risk Watch Camp is held every year for a three-week period. In fact, the Hazelwood Police Department was the first law enforcement agency in St. Louis County to establish a summer camp program using the D.A.R.E. curriculum. This year’s time frame is June 16th to July 3rd at the Hazelwood Community Center. The camp is limited to 36 students. Reservations usually fill up pretty fast, producing the need to create a waiting list. In addition to drug resistance and safety classes, campers enjoy arts and crafts, volleyball, soccer, swimming, self-defense classes, and a whole lot more.
“We set up shows with the World Bird Sanctuary, Reptile Experience and BigFoot 4×4, along with all the other activities, to show these kids there are a lot of fun things that can be done without poisoning their bodies with drugs and alcohol,” Hazelwood Police Department’s D.A.R.E. Officer/Camp Counselor Ed Novak said.
FIRST ENCOUNTER OF A SCREECH OWL — Hazelwood D.A.R.E. Summer Campers get a bird’s eye view of a screech owl for the first time. The Hazelwood Police Department hosts this program as a way to show young people that there are a lot of fun things to see and do without poisoning their bodies with drugs and alcohol.
A RAVEN TEACHES KIDS THE IMPORTANCE OF RECYCLING — A raven lands on the arm of a camp counselor and grabs a plastic water bottle with its beak and flies back to drop it in a recycling container. This demonstration illustrated that ravens are considered the most intelligent birds, displaying high learning ability and use of logic for solving problems.