Schools to host raptor program in February

Published 6:53 pm Monday, December 3, 2012

A group of winged guests scheduled to visit Chilton County schools in February will take a regular science lesson to new heights.

Clanton Intermediate and Isabella schools will host a raptor program for third grade students on Feb. 22 featuring various birds of prey from the Southeastern Raptor Center at Auburn University.

The program will allow students to see raptors such as eagles, hawks and owls up close and learn about them from SRC employees who work with them every day.

“They put on a program that I understand is very entertaining and informative for students,” Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden said. “This particular program is age appropriate for third graders.”

The Chilton Auburn Club recently approached Hayden and the board of education about offering the program to students as part of the club’s community service, and the board approved the program in November.

“We had the raptor center come to our banquet in the spring and bring the eagle,” said Glenda Mims of the club’s board of directors. “They commented that they do programs all over the state, but the average grade level that they present to is third grade. We would love to have done it for everybody, but we had to pick a grade.”

Glenda and her husband BOE member Joe Mims attended a presentation of the program at the SRC in Auburn this year as the club was considering community service projects.

“I knew in the back of my mind that we were contemplating this, so I paid very close attention to the content,” Mims said. “The kids that were there in the third-grade range of age sat and were totally focused on that program. They do it in such a way that it holds the students’ attention.”

In February, several SRC employees will bring a group of its non-releasable raptors to the county.

“The program itself is a science program,” Mims said. “They talk about the different types of raptors, they bring samples of the different kinds of raptors, they talk about the habitat, the effect on the environment (and) the makeup of the raptors themselves.”

Dr. Jimmy Milton started the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center—now the Southeastern Raptor Center—in the mid-1970s when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought six injured birds to Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine with the vision that the school would become a rehabilitation center for the region.

Since its founding, SRC has treated and released back into the wild thousands of raptors, while offering educational programs like the one coming to Chilton with non-releasable raptors for schools, civic and community groups in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

A surprise twist could be that they bring along the golden eagle named Nova that usually flies over Auburn’s football stadium before games.

“I think it’s something good that you can bring into the schools to spark the kids’ interest,” Hayden said. “Plus it gives the club a sense of community that they’re giving something back to the schools. It’s good on a lot of levels.”

The program will take place once at Clanton Intermediate with Verbena students attending and once at Isabella with Thorsby, Jemison and Maplesville students attending.

Times of the program at both schools are yet to be determined.