Radford nature series offers educational environment
RADFORD — About 70 people from across the New River Valley spent Thursday evening at Radford’s outdoor classroom in Wildwood Park learning about falcons.
It was the first event in a summer series of six nature-themed lectures sponsored by Pathways for Radford, Radford City Schools and the Radford Recreation Department.
The summer lecture series is the brainchild of Radford High School biology teacher Frank Taylor, who made it his mission to garner the support of the community in building an outdoor classroom at the park years ago. This summer’s nature series marks the seventh year of Wildwood Park lectures.
“One of my dreams was to have an outdoor classroom for my students and use it in the summertime to use it for lectures from naturalists,” Taylor said. “I’ve always wanted to have scientists interacting with the general public.”
Liz Altieri, president of Pathways for Radford, said the events are about getting people back to nature.
“It’s a unique venue that gets people into Wildwood Park,” Altieri said. “The idea is to get people to come into a natural setting and learn more about the nature they’re seeing.”
Altieri said this summer’s lectures will all have a focus on animals. There will even be an animal present at each lecture, Altieri added.
On Thursday, falconer Shane Brandes spoke to the diverse group of nature-lovers about the sport of falconry, the falcon itself and how to care for the bird. Brandes’ falcon, Linc, was the star of the show.
Falconry is a hunting sport in which trained birds of prey hunt other birds in their natural habitat.
Kennet Manley, a 13-year-old from McCoy hopes to become a falconer. Marc Manley, Kennet’s father, brought him to see the lecture because Kennet has an obvious passion for the sport, he said.
“I was excited because I’ve been around it, and I take any chance I get to see anything related to falconry,” Kennet said. “It’s just something I really want to do.”
Brandes was happy to see someone Kennet’s age who was interested in his sport.
“It’s great in the fact that there are really only about 4,500 falconers nationwide,” Brandes said. “I figure the more people that get involved, the better chance I have of my sport moving forward.”
For the several children who were in attendance, Brandes offered to be a mentor to any one of them interested in becoming a falconer.
“I love kids in general, and I’m more than willing to help any of them get started,” Brandes said. “I had someone help me, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Taylor said he looks forward to seeing more people come out and enjoy the summer lectures in Wildwood Park. The events are free and open to anyone interested, Taylor added.
“You can’t drive up here,” Taylor said. “You have to get out of your car and walk through the park to enjoy a twilight setting next to the stream.”
While Taylor hopes attendees enjoy the scenery, he wants to continue educating the public about what it is they’re experiencing in the park.
“It’s all about connecting everyday people to the amazing natural world that is all around us, through experts that are passionate about what they do.”
For more information about the Outdoor Classroom: 2012 Summer Nature Series, visit sites.google.com/a/rcps.org/summer-lecture-series/.
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627
2012 Lecture Schedule:
All events are at 7:30 p.m. at the outdoor classroom at Wildwood Park in Radford.
June 21: Animal Tracking
Rob Speiden: Natural Awareness Tracking School
July 5: Snakes Alive! Copperheads, Rattlesnakes and More: Facts and Misconceptions!
Jason Reger: Staff Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist/Blue Ridge Wildlife Management
July 19: Butterflies of Wildwood and Beyond
Clyde Kessle: Naturalist
August 2: Slimy Salamanders
Jeff brown: Biology Teacher/Radford High School
August 16: Mice and voles and shrews, oh my! Native small mammals of Radford
Karen Francl: Radford University Department of Biology
No Comments »
No comments yet.