Our thanks to super industrious volunteer Colleen Chase who organized and managed OM’s presence at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge’s annual Wildlife Heritage & Outdoors Festival. Below is Colleen’s description of the event.
WHO Festival WRAP UP..by Colleen Chase
Last Saturday, the 2nd of February, could not have delivered better weather if we’d ordered it! While it started off a tad cold – but not miserably so – it eventually warmed to a pleasant 60 odd degrees. Perfect weather for enjoying an outdoor event.
OM’s display space was in a great location nestled right up against St. Mark’s beautiful new education building. Chantal Blanton, her hubby Jim Pinson, and fellow Craniacs Lynn Walsh (aka maxgreenwing), Claire Timm, and I set up a table with OM merchandise, brochures, and information sheets.
On an adjacent table, Jim and Chantal laid out an assortment of Whooping crane educational items. The feathers of course were my favorite, but it did not take long to see that the Crane “food” was the kids favorite! It was the plastic bugs, mice, snakes, lizards and a Blue Crab that grabbed and held their attention.
Chantal and Claire shared with visitors how Whooping Cranes are hatched at Patuxent, raised and trained by pilots to follow OM’s ultralight aircraft, and last but not least, how during Winter Monitoring, Brooke teaches them to find and eat crabs. Jim’s performance as a costumed crane handler was spot on. Seeing all the little ones’ eyes get big when they saw him was adorable.
A costumed Jim Pinson poses with two other symbolic ‘critters’.
We were situated beside the Ducks Unlimited booth. They had the neatest duck calls and now and then they would go through their repertoire. Here I must confess – when they did that, I just couldn’t resist chiming in with a Whooping Crane unison call. If you don’t have the Unison Call Ring Tone here is a link. Your friends and family will thank you, I promise! (Editor’s Note: Remember – Colleen made that promise, not us!)
We all took turns going around to check out the other displays. The Tallahassee Museum brought an opossum and an Great horned owl, and the Tallahassee Wood Crafters showed wonderful hand carved items. FWC had several displays including those on Bear Management, Archery, and Marine Fisheries.
The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) was also represented, and OM’s good friend, Animal Kingdom’s Zoological Manager Scott Tidmus was on hand to fill folks in on the many educational, wildlife, and habitat conservation programs DWCF supports throughout the world.
More fun…You could learn how to throw a cast net, or flyfish. There were hunting dog demonstrations, and mask making and face painting tables. Really cool was the Panhandle Archeological Society’s collection of ‘stuff’ found in the Aucilla River. Since Zombies did not have a table, no doubt OM Intern and plant expert Geoff Tarbox, would have spent all his time at the display by the Sarracenia Chapter of the Native Plant Society.
The always personable St Marks Fire Crew explained how controlled burns ensure healthy forests, and the St Marks Photo Club had a display of wonderful photos of this beautiful area.
OM/St. Marks Volunteer Gordon Perkinson was on hand to lead tours of the historic St. Marks Lighthouse. I found the Wakulla County 4-H Club kids to be the coolest smartest kids around. They really care about the conservation of the beautiful part of the country in which they are growing up.
All in all we spent a terrific day sharing OM’s mission, learning from other exhibitors, visiting with old friends, and happily making new ones. It really does not get any better than that!
Photo credits go to Brooke Pennypacker and Claire Timm.