AmeriCorps Week: Stories of Service

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EDUCATION IN REHABILITATION, STORY OF ASHLEY SWASEY


 
As a part of my service term at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), I spend at least one day a week serving in the Avian Wildlife Rehabilitation department. Here, I participate in the care and husbandry of exhibit, education and rehabilitation patient birds. Near the end of our winter season, a juvenile Bald Eagle entered our care.

Upon intake, the young Bald Eagle was extremely emaciated and not very responsive. Despite the eagle’s sunken stature, this juvenile was nearly full grown. And, as an active participant in this birds’ rehabilitation, I can tell you that trying to restrain a full grown Bald Eagle, who does not want to be around humans, is a very daunting and challenging task. Despite how intimidating this bird may have been, it is nevertheless a charismatic and awe-inspiring creature. Simply watching its recovery was amazing.

From the perspective of an educator, being able to share this experience with the public was wonderful. The Avian Wildlife Rehabilitation building has a viewing window that allows guests to view procedures being done on patients. This window granted me the opportunity to join and interact with the public after the Bald Eagle procedures. Most of what happens behind those glass panes is completely novel to our visitors. In this particular case, many guests had never seen a Bald Eagle, even fewer could correctly identify a juvenile (hint: the head and tail feathers have yet to turn white!).

It has been expressed many times over by the members of the public how much they appreciate and admire the work that we are doing here at VINS. While it would be amazing if we got the same enthusiastic response for every chickadee or dove that comes through our doors, we appreciated the public response when our Nation’s emblem was involved.

The juvenile Bald Eagle had a successful recovery with the help of many individuals at VINS, and was released to the wild on April 8th, 2014.

To read VINS stories and more, visit their blog!

*Photos owned by VHCB AmeriCorps & the Vermont Institute of Natural Science

Story originally posted June 2014

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VHCB AmeriCorps is a program of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

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