We asked Otter Creek Audubon Society volunteer and board member, Carl Ramsayer, to talk about how she became involved with Audubon and why it makes a difference. I never would have guessed that her story would involve baby alligators.
My husband and I raised our 2 children in Norway, Malaysia and Texas. For several years after kids went off to college, I volunteered at Brazos Bend State Park located south of Houston, leading school groups on trail walks and handling snakes and baby alligators for visitors to the park’s nature center. In 2009 my husband retired and we moved to Middlebury, Vermont, eager for small towns and mountains. Although my baby alligator wrangling skills didn’t transfer to my new state, my interest in sharing nature with kids did. I had taken a course in nature interpretation, and had learned about connecting kids to the natural world through their own discoveries.
Joining the Otter Creek Audubon Society (OCAS) board offered a way to continue this interest. First a teacher friend invited me to introduce birds to her sixth graders through activities and bird walks. By the next year those afternoon visits had evolved into our Classroom Birding Series, an OCAS offering of hands-on birding activities and bird walks - with real binoculars for each student. Volunteers pitched in to lead walks, to help Gary Starr with his popular bird-carving-with-real-knives activity, and to encourage kids to explore bird study skins. Excitement for birds has grown over the years. Additionally, through these efforts and the OCAS Environmental Education Grants program, I have found it so rewarding to support teachers as they engage their students in outdoor learning.
Please consider donating to Audubon Vermont. Your gift might provide magnifying glasses to unlock the secrets of feathers…or purchase animal track molds for winter exploring…or provide a classroom birding kit to stimulate kids’ interests. Audubon Vermont has done all that and more for OCAS. We all can contribute in our own way toward the goal of getting kids out in nature - catching that bug, hearing that song, experiencing that fascination.