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The other day, I passed the still form of a large raptor in the center of a local roadway. Having recently attended a presentation by the Delaware Valley Raptor Center (DVRC) featuring birds of prey, I turned around and pulled to the side of the road to assess whether the bird might still benefit from the attention of the Milford, Pennsylvania-based rehabilitation facility. Unfortunately, the most that could be done was to drag the dead turkey vulture off the road so that other scavengers wouldn’t be at risk when they found the carcass.
Along with a large group of high school students, I experienced the informative presentation at the 33rd annual Pike/Wayne Envirothon, an educational competition designed to test the students’ knowledge, skills and problem-solving capabilities on topics such as aquatic ecology, forestry, soils/land use and wildlife.
The event is coordinated by Pike and Wayne counties’ conservation districts, working with teachers and environmental agencies to prep the students for the competition. Winning teams from both counties advance to the Pennsylvania Envirothon (www.envirothonpa.org) to be held at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown and Windber Recreation Park on May 21 and 22.
Education raises awareness, which in turn can lead to informed action and, often, improved outcomes. Many students who have participated in the Envirothon during its three decades have gone on to careers in conservation. This year, every participant received a complimentary raptor field guide that they can use to identify birds of prey like the one I encountered. Observing the students’ expressions, as one bird after another was displayed and discussed, made it clear this was a valuable supplemental learning experience in addition to their studies for the environmental competition.
Visit www.dvrconline.org/eduschedule for upcoming opportunities to see a DVRC presentation. The non-profit organization receives no federal or state funding and operates primarily on funding from programs, memberships and donations.