Friday, April 15, 2016

TRC Celebrates Volunteers - Youth RaptorCorp

The Youth RaptorCorp Class of 2015-2016

Our final post for Volunteer Week was written by Nickie M.  Nickie was part of a team of three Education volunteers who planned and taught the topics for our most recent Youth RaptorCorp sessions, TRC's youth service-learning club.   

"Youth Raptor Corps had their final class this week and it was such a great experience to get to teach these amazing kids. My favorite parts were getting to plan and teach with Brett and Denise and getting to know the kids.

Brett, Denise and I would all meet at a coffee shop with a rough outline and a bunch of ideas.  We would brainstorm while the caffeine kicked in and a couple of hours later everything would fall into place for a great plan for class. It was nice to have the freedom to pick the topic and choose what each of us wanted to teach the kids. The kids loved getting to see the raptors up close and we all enjoyed great guest speakers who presented to the class. Every class ended with the kids doing a service project to help TRC and raptors.

This group of 5-8th grade kids were remarkable and really cared about the environment, raptors, and other animals.  They always had lots of great and complex questions that showed that they wanted to learn more and more. It was fun to see them every month and I am sure, with their passion for nature, that they will go on to do great things to help the world.
We really appreciated working with the great TRC staff, especially Dan H., to make this possible."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

TRC Celebrates Volunteers - Transport Crew

Transport volunteers Velma and Gary R. responded to a
call about an injured bald eagle.  They kept the bird's head
covered to reduce stress, and had appropriate training and
equipment for this rescue and transport. 
They are family to TRC's front desk staff, Sue W.,
who recruited them to be TRC volunteers.

The Transport volunteer crew provides ambulance service to deliver injured raptors to TRC clinic doors as soon as possible.  They don’t drive fast, but they do often travel long distances and even put up with rush hour traffic in the cities.  This volunteer group is set up like many of other crews.  Each person has a specific weekday and time (morning/afternoon/early evening) that they donate but instead of having a specific task to do each week, they are on-call, ready to be dispatched at a moment’s notice.

Some crew members are also trained in rescue and share many interesting stories, from riding 4-wheelers and taking canoe trips, to hiking through mucky swamps, all to reach raptors in distress. This caring group of people is crucial to helping TRC provide care and relieve the suffering of injured raptors in a timely fashion.  Sometimes, hours really do count.  We are so thankful to our transport volunteers; they are an integral part of our TRC team.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

TRC Celebrates Volunteers - Carpentry

David S. works on an American kestrel hutch, to put in some
heat features.

The Carpentry volunteer crew has four main members, three of which are also on other TRC crews.  Rich B. (volunteer since 2015) is on Education, Pierce F. (2015) is on Clinic, David S. (2009) is also Transport, while Gary G. (2015) is specifically on Carpentry.
Rich B. shows off an innovative - and sustainable -
design for raptor perches.

This team of volunteers makes unique contributions each day.  David S. shared that this group can now be very innovative in their approach due to the construction that was completed for both education and rehabilitation birds’ housing last year.  A large part of their work used to consist of repairing broken perches and enclosure components.  Now their efforts can be focused on making existing things even better. 

The construction company left us remnants of some of the durable, sustainable, weather-resistant building materials.  The volunteers thought they might work great as new perch supports.  They experimented with different designs, working closely with clinic and education staff on what was safest and best for birds.  Now the perches will last longer, and take less maintenance. They also began to make patterns for the pieces, so other volunteers can replicate the efforts. 

A wonderful example of re-purposing is evident in one of the “old” education courtyard’s door and frame.  The volunteers used it to build an organized storage area for the education department in TRC’s downstairs store room.

David does a wonderful job of explaining some of the work done by this crew in a video here. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

TRC Celebrates Volunteers - Flight Crew

Flight crew volunteers assist TRC staff with training professional
peers on techniques for this part of rehabilitation. 

April 10-16, 2016 is National Volunteer Week.  Each weekday this week, we will feature just one of the many crews of volunteers who make such a difference.

Lily Carey, TRC rehabilitator, wrote a piece on TRC’s volunteer flight crew.  It describes not only what they do on their shifts, but how important they are to TRC’s mission. 

“I have never worked at a place with more dedicated and enjoyable volunteers than at TRC. It takes a special type of person to not only volunteer their free time, but to commit with great enthusiasm to the care of our patients and fulfillment of our mission. One group of volunteers I work closely with is TRC’s flight crew. Reconditioning is such an important part of the rehabilitation process at TRC that we have a dedicated crew of people who focus on providing recuperating raptors opportunities for exercise.  Crews that handle small and medium sized raptors often exercise 6-8 birds during a 4 hour shift, five days a week.  TRC’s eagle crews often exercise 2-3 eagles each shift.  The flight crews accomplish a high volume of work with a smile on their faces even when they clean messy outdoor flight pens that house 3-4 red-tailed hawks at a time!  
TRC flight crew with a great horned owl.  The
creance method is used in reconditioning
to strengthen muscles and build endurance.

During the winter, crews that exercise small and medium sized birds usually take a hiatus from flight because few birds are released during our harsh Minnesotan winters.  The eagle crews, however, work all year round as we continue to release eagles at known wintering grounds.  These crews brave cold temperatures and deep snow to help these patients rebuild weakened muscles and cardiovascular endurance so they can be released in top athletic condition. 

One of my favorite moments of spring is when I walk into the laundry room (the flight crew’s headquarters) and the small/medium bird crew is back! It feels like our team is then complete as we prepare birds we have overwintered to return to the wild.  This week is all about giving thanks and appreciation to our amazing volunteers.  Thank you flight crews for your passion and dedication in helping our patients with the final leg of their recovery. TRC truly would not be the same without your enthusiasm, passion and fun-loving spirits. Thank you!”