|Jennifer Rios ’13 and Aaron Tanyhill ’14 feed rehabilitated brown pelicans at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. (Photo by Justin Braun)
The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center
is nestled among the mangroves along the shore of Tavernier, Florida, just off
the Overseas Highway. You’d drive right past it if you weren’t looking for it.
As part of the Rollins Office of
Immersion program, eleven students, ranging from
first-years to seniors, ventured to the Florida Keys for a weekend of
service-learning. This was the first Immersion during which students had the
opportunity to directly address issues facing wildlife with hands-on service.
It was also the first time Rollins had partnered with the Florida Keys Wild
|Students participating in the Rollins Immersion trip learn about society’s impact on wild birds. (Photo by Justin Braun)
The center consisted of dozens of
outdoor rehabilitation cages for a variety of bird species lining a wooden
boardwalk that wound its way through the marsh toward the beach. Our first task
was to learn about each bird at the center, why it was injured, and how it was
|Jennifer Rios ’13 gets up close and personal with a rehabilitated eastern screech owl while cleaning its habitat. (Photo by Justin Braun)
Brown pelicans, ospreys, and
laughing gulls with broken bills and beaks, broken wings, and missing eyes were
being nurtured back to health from boat and fishing-related injuries. Barred
owls, eastern screech owls, and broad-winged hawks that had been hit by cars
were recovering, transitioning from the hospital to caged environment rehab.
The center had recently received a grant to begin construction on a much-needed
flight rehabilitation cage so patients could learn to fly again.
Felman ’13 observes brown pelicans in their natural habitat. (Photo by Justin
Tanyhill ’14 rakes up debris on the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center’s beach. (Photo
by Justin Braun)
The group learned the primary
reason birds wind up at the center is human negligence and development.
Florida’s expanding economy is eating up wild habitats, causing birds to come
in contact with vehicles and litter. Without the Center, these majestic
creatures would die—either from their injuries in the wild or by euthanasia at
the hands of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in an
effort not to waste resources on animals with needs beyond the FWC’s capacity.
Volunteering at the center,
students fed the pelicans, cleaned the beach, picked up garbage, cleaned cages,
collected drift wood, moved fresh sand to the beach, and organized supplies. At
the end of the day, Executive Director Joan Scholz presented the group with a
certificate of appreciation for service and advised on how to make a difference
for Florida’s wildlife in our community.
By Justin Braun
Office of Marketing & Communications
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