Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blog Post No. 28, 12/03/11 -- Holiday Open House at Soldiers Delight

Here I am showing off the "edible" birdhouse I made
It was with great pleasure (and a lot of work) that I organized, set up and managed todays’ annual Holiday Open House at the Soldier’s Delight Natural Environment Area in Owings Mills (http://home.comcast.net/~soldiersdelight/) where I am a Volunteer Park Ranger and also Vice President of the friends group for this sensitive and unique wilderness area. On the Soldiers Delight premises we house a private aviary where raptors, such as bald and golden eagles, owls, hawks and vultures, are rehabilitated from injuries received typically from being hit by cars, as well as a number of reptiles and turtles. The animals, once nursed back to health, are imprinted on humans and cannot be released into the wild, so they become ambassadors of our Scales & Tales program, which provides programs in our city schools to teach children about the wonders of the natural world.
Sweetgum ball reindeer and pinecone owl
Our rehabilitation aviary is not generally open to the public, but we made a rare exception for our open house and welcomed children and adults into the building where these magnificent creatures make their homes. During the event, our visitor center welcomed guests with a bake sale and craft program. I set up festive tables in our auditorium and recruited volunteers to staff eight different crafts for children and adults to enjoy, from making angel ornaments from milkweed pods and oyster shells, to reindeer and snowmen made from sweetgum balls, and even "edible" birdhouses for the yard. At the same time, I set up tables in our exhibit hall which groaned under the weight of volunteer-baked goods ranging from pumpkin pie and sour cream cake to baklava and a multitude of cookies and bar treats. In the days leading up to the event I made gallons of hot chocolate, hot mulled wine with cardamom pods and peppercorns, and hot spiced cider with tangerines, cloves, and cinnamon. Our visitor center was a feast for the olfactory senses – and our taste buds!
Bake sale underway
The day went very well, and we took in several hundred dollars which will be used to further our outreach and conservation efforts at Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area.  We had many visitors and I delighted in seeing children and adults enjoy making their holiday crafts. I bought way too many sweets to take home and was exhausted by the time everything was cleaned up and put away, but it was a very satisfied exhaustion!!
Me with fellow board members Dwight and Laura and Wildlife Heritage Program biologist and baker extraordinaire Paula

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