On a frozen and cold winter day in Michigan, AmeriCorps member Sara Huetteman and Andrea Foster visited Wildlife Recovery Association in Shepherd, Michigan. Most winter days are cold, but sometimes you luck out and get a balmy forty on a random Wednesday. Not this day, though. As it turns out, winter weather is for the birds.
“These birds are all native to Michigan, can fully withstand cold temperatures, and can be housed outside all winter.” Said Barb Rogers.
This is evidenced by the types of birds in the outdoor enclosures. There is a Peregrine Falcon, a Golden Eagle, Snowy Owls, and several Bald Eagles. All are in a state of recovery, or are considered Ambassadors for educational programs. While education is the main focus of the Wildlife Recovery Association, wildlife recovery plays a large role in their history.
Barb and Joe Rogers run the Wildlife Recovery Association (WRA). Started in 1979, this organization provides educational outreach and sanctuary care for orphaned and injured hawks, owls, eagles, and falcons. When a bird is injured and cannot fend for themselves in the wild, Barb and Joe step in to help nurse and rehabilitate the animal. When possible, birds are re-released into the wild. Without this organization, Central Michigan would not have licensed professionals available to help care for these wounded majestic creatures.
When birds are not able to be released into the wild, Joe and Barb find a home for the birds at zoos and nature centers or they become one of their Ambassador birds. These raptors are well taken care of and live in huge enclosures where they can hop around and still feel connected to their natural world. The Ambassador birds travel around with the WRA to schools, libraries, nature camps, and other events so that people can make a connection to the birds and learn more about the animals.
This was not the first trip to the Wildlife Recovery Association for Sara. “I worked with Joe and Barb while attending Central,” said Sara. “I mainly helped with the educational programs and take care of the Ambassador birds. I even got to release a few back into the wild. It was always a highlight of my day when I got to help with the birds. They do amazing work and they have such interesting stories and knowledge about birds and wildlife in general.”
Conservation takes many forms. Whether you are working to help provide habitat, saving the bees, or part of an organization that educates about wildlife, you are making a major effort to help protect and preserve our environment. Supporting organizations like the Wildlife Recovery Association and Little Forks Conservancy are great examples of ways you can help your local conservation efforts.