Program helps get kids interested in the outdoors

Children are the future of the outdoors and, like many other
hunters and anglers, I feel we must get them interested in
everything outdoors.

Along those lines, I would like to take this opportunity to
introduce you to a couple heroes of mine. These individuals are not
caped crusaders or even the stuff movies and legends are made of.
They are just common everyday people but they are passionate about
their professions and that is what makes them heroes in my
book.

Beverly Shofstall is the founder of an organization called Free
Again Wildlife Rehabilitation. Beverly and her husband, Jim,
founded the organization in 1987. Beverly and Jim and their handful
of volunteers take in about 450 injured or orphaned animals each
year. Free Again rehabilitates animals, birds, and reptiles native
to southern Illinois and returns them to the wild when possible.
Some of the animals are unable to be released back in to the wild
because of their injury. The animals which cannot be returned to
the wild are actually put to work by Beverly and her crew. Beverly
uses the animals, which cannot be released, to educate people and
families about the different types of animals and habitat needed
for their survival. A “show and tell” type of learning
environment.

Pam Collins is the Literacy Outreach Coordinator with John A. Logan
College.

Pam’s job, in a nutshell, is to get kids, as well as adults,
interested in reading. The goal of the program is to provide family
friendly activities, free of charge, to promote literacy. The age
group is focused mainly on birth through age 8 but also strives to
help adults improve their reading skills as well.

When you put Pam and Beverly in the same room with the same goals,
you wind up with something very special as was the case in Du Quoin
on July 8. With Pam’s literacy program and Beverly’s “Birds of
Prey,” which was the topic of this particular session, the children
and their families were presented with an opportunity to take a
serious interest in the outdoors and wildlife and wildlife habitat.
The goal of Pam’s program is to choose a topic, present it to the
children and their families, spark interest in the topic, therefore
encouraging the children to go and read more about the subject.
Beverly’s program is similar because it educates about wildlife and
wildlife habitat and encourages the youth and adults to go and
learn about wildlife behavior and wildlife habitat requirements in
hopes of preserving our natural resources.

For this particular session, Free Again Wildlife Rehabilitation was
contacted and asked to bring some visual aids in the form of birds
of prey. On hand for the forum were 60 attendees, 1 Red tailed
hawk, 1 American Kestrel, 1 Barred Owl, 1 Barn Owl and 1 Turkey
Vulture. Also in attendance were representatives from the Du Quoin
City Library and the Du Quoin Evening Call newspaper. The Du Quoin
Library and the Du Quoin Evening Call are also promoters and
advocates of the literacy program.

Free Again Wildlife Rehabilitation also offers programs on a
monthly basis at the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
According to Shofstall, the second Saturday of every month at the
Visitor Center is referred to as FUN (Families Understanding
Nature) day. Each month, a different animal, bird, or reptile is
featured in a funny but educational program.

It is opportunities like this that we should all take advantage of.
Because the children are the future of the outdoors and we must get
them interested in everything outdoors, these types of programs are
just what the doctor ordered and should be seized upon by every
member of the family.

Take your children to one of these programs or just take them for a
hike in the woods. Pick a subject, whether it is a tree, an animal,
or plant, or anything else that you may discover, and then go home
and read about it together as a family. You may be surprised at
what your child, or even you, could learn.

Happy Hunting!

Categories: Illinois – Shane Malawy

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