Something to hoot about: Become a Shaver's Creek student volunteer

November 11, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- When visiting Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center at Penn State, one may be startled to hear a screech -- but do not worry, it’s only a raptor saying hello.

As one of the few federally funded and state-licensed raptor facilities in Pennsylvania, the Raptor Center has been part of Shaver’s Creek since 1981. The center is home to over 20 birds of prey, including bald eagles, golden eagles, barred owls and red-tailed hawks.

The birds all suffered injuries that prevented them from successfully being released back into the wild. After spending time at rehabilitation centers, the birds found a permanent home at Shaver’s Creek.

The Raptor Center relies heavily on volunteers, work-study students and interns to take care of these birds in their new home. Volunteer and work-study opportunities currently exist in a number of areas, including animal care, grounds, trails and facilities, programs and special events. To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Shaver’s Creek, visit online.

Volunteers are responsible for feeding the birds -- which is a process -- thawing frozen mice, fish and other meat, checking what the birds have already eaten, as well as checking what food is in stock, said Ryan Michelle Coury, an environmental education intern.

The staff and volunteers also conduct programs for the public. These programs include “Meet the Birds of Prey,” a weekend show held until mid November and a traveling raptor show.

“We conduct outreach programming to educate the public and train our students,” said Doug Steigerwalt, program director. “It’s blended learning -- the students are learning while they’re teaching others.”

Many of the shows are geared toward teaching elementary school kids the value of nature because “when people value things, they want to take care of them,” Steigerwalt said.

“When you’re working with the kids, you inspire them to have a connection with nature and maintain that connection with the natural world,” Coury said. “You’re touching it, you’re feeling it. (Shaver’s Creek) offers an incredible, fun learning experience.”

For more than 30 years, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center has worked to help people and communities learn to live in harmony with nature. For more information, visit online. Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

  • IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010