A $10,000 grant award from Evergy to Pittsburg State University’s Nature Reach program will help fund the Raptor Ambassadors Improved Housing project, including repair, improvements, and expansion to the enclosures built by the Westar Green Team in 2007 and 2011.
The enclosures house raptors that are unable to live in the wild but are of great value to Nature Reach, which uses them in outreach programs with children and adults across the region. The raptors include a Harris’s hawk, two Eastern screech owls, a barred owl, a barn owl, a great horned owl, two American kestrels, and a turkey vulture.
“Improved housing for our Nature Reach ambassadors will provide a better environment for training them with positive reinforcement,” said Delia Lister, director of Nature Reach. “This is a new standard of care within the avian ambassador training profession.”
Not only will the improved enclosures, located on acreage southwest of Pittsburg, benefit the raptors, they’ll benefit PSU students, as well.
“They’ll gain valuable, real-world experience in animal care as they become more knowledgeable about the new standards and training techniques,” Lister explained.
Nature Reach is required to meet federal and state standards for permits needed to maintain the program. Over the past six years, PSU Nature Reach has provided programming in 30 communities, primarily in Southeast Kansas, but also in Southwest Missouri and Northeast Oklahoma.
Annually, Nature Reach serves approximately 4,000 students in grades K-12, as well as undergraduate level university students, most of whom are majoring in biology at PSU.
The PSU Nature Reach program aligns with Evergy’s focus of advancing environmental leadership and community vitality, noted Mary Jo Meier, director of development for PSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. This is the third grant awarded by Evergy to Nature Reach; the two previous grant awards funded outreach programming and a student day camp.
“This continued partnership with Evergy will help us increase environmental awareness through hands-on educational outreach in the Southeast Kansas region,” Meier said.