Without “feather” ado: Reading with Raptors debuts at the Linda McNatt Animal Care and Adoption Shelter

Without “feather” ado: Reading with Raptors debuts at the Linda McNatt Animal Care and Adoption Shelter

Without “feather” ado: Reading with Raptors debuts at the Linda McNatt Animal Care and Adoption Shelter
June 27
08:44 2018

Children sat on blankets toward the front of the room close to where Tara Frank, Denton Animal Shelter’s resident wildlife specialist, would be reading a story to the kids about an owl. After an informative PowerPoint about what are birds of prey and conservation efforts to save those birds, Frank made her entrance, accompanied by Owliver the Barred Owl.

Owliver is helping to bridge the gap between education and community outreach as part of the shelter’s Reading with Raptors children’s series.

“Tara Frank, who will be teaching the classes, was inspired to create and provide this class due to her great love of raptors,” Nicole Lopez, Animal Services officer for Denton, said. “They are very unique and mysterious, and while they live amongst us here in Texas, they are rarely seen up close by the general public and little is known about them by the general community as well. The City of Denton Animal Shelter and Tara Frank want to be able to provide a multifaceted community outreach program centered around children’s education and wildlife conservation.”

While the Reading with Raptors series does not have any sponsors, Lopez said Frank and the shelter are always in need of donations.

“Tara does this in her free, personal time in order to provide children’s education that is affordable and accessible to the entire community about these fantastic birds,” Lopez said. “She does accept monetary donations at the classes to keep the program going. [Frank] is also always in need of store-bought donations like puppy pads, original Dawn dish soap, Macaw food and other pet-friendly cleaning supplies to keep the raptors and parrots happy and healthy.”

Even though she is “honestly terrified of birds,” mother Kelly Waddill took her daughter, Nora, to Reading with Raptors.

“I really liked that she could hear more about raptors and owls, so she’s really interested in those kinds of things,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s favorite bird shown was the owl, while Nora liked both of them.

“I wish I could have [a bird], but I already have one, and I can’t even take that one home,” Nora said, referring to her stuffed animal birds at home.

Hayden Arnold, an Animal Services officer for the Linda McNatt Animal Shelter for a year and a half, also attended the event. He has recently been working with Frank for the children’s outreach.

“When I see the parents and children come and go from the classes and programs that we hold at the shelter or outside of the building at an event, I want every citizen to take away a broader sense of the animal world that surrounds them on a daily basis,” Arnold said. “So much of this education has been lost because of the ongoing daily tasks, such as work, school, television and computer usage. I do not intend on saying that the whole of the technological environment has enveloped the natural world [and its] inhabits, but it does block a greater portion of it.”

Arnold was happy to see the children attending the event and said the shelter has plans to continue community outreach for children through other programs similar to Reading With Raptors.

“It is amazing that a child sitting on their home living room floor watching the television can see a fox or rabbit run across the screen and be told several facts about each animal by a commentator,” Arnold said. “However, it is something completely different for that same child to see that fox with his or her own eyes out in the wild, or for that child to feel the soft fur of that same rabbit with his or her own hand.”

This is the first time the Shelter has hosted Reading with Raptors classes, all of which are free to attend. The next two classes are scheduled for 5 p.m. on June 21 and June 28. Tickets can be reserved online, as there are a limited number of seats.

Featured Image: Tara Frank teaches children and parents about Denton’s local birds at the first Reading With Raptors event held at the City of Denton Animal Shelter. Will Baldwin

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Emily Olkkola

Emily Olkkola

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