The Pittsburg State Nature Reach Program was awarded a grant by Evergy.
The grant, which is $10,000, will enable Nature Reach to make improvements to the raptor housing including repairs, improvements, and expansions.
“Nature Reach has been around since 1985 and we take live animals to classrooms during non-COVID times and schools can also bring kids to us,” said Nature Reach director Delia Lister. “I do teacher workshops and I supervise a student staff that care for the animals and so that’s all part of Nature Reach. I teach in the Biology department.”
The improvements made to the enclosures will help the raptors in many ways.
“…Basically, I’ve been doing a lot of professional development and learning about what the new potential standards are (that are) coming from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (Service),” Lister said. “They’re the governing body that grants us our permits… So, the standards are changing and plus our cages now are 13 years old and they just need some repair work… it will be more predator proof and (have) fewer problems… It will give basically all of our birds more space and be a safer environment and that sort of thing. So, it will definitely improve their lives and also make our jobs easier.”
The grant will also help the student workers who take care of the animals at Nature Reach.
“So, basically all the things that I have been learning I, of course, then teach to the students,” Lister said. “So, making sure that the students stay safe and they understand the protocols for taking care of animals that potentially could be dangerous. Without our raptors and without our animals, we don’t really have Nature Reach… They’re (the students) really an important part of the program, and the students that are working at Nature Reach or volunteering at Nature Reach, they get a lot of hands on experience that they don’t get at most universities. So, they get a leg up in the world in terms of finding a job if they want to work at a nature center or a zoo or a museum or state park, those kinds of places.”
Nature Reach houses two American Kestrels, two Eastern Screech Owls, a Barred Owl, a Harris’s Hawk, a Barn Owl, a Great Horned Owl and a non-raptor Turkey Vulture.
“…Raptors are birds of prey,” Lister said. “…All of the birds we have are because of some sort injury or some reason that they can’t be released back into the wild. So, with improved caging we can work to better train the birds and make it so that they are really wanting to participate and doing programming and that sort of thing so we can make their lives better.”
To learn more about Nature Reach, visit https://pittstate.edu/biology/nature-reach/ or call (620) 235-4727.
“Nature Reach is really grateful to Evergy,” Lister said. “The university can’t fully financially support us and so I have to constantly be on the lookout for grants and donations…”