MAITLAND, Fla. – The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland has been caring for sick and injured birds in our community for 40 years.
Part of the center's mission is science-based education and outreach. Each summer, the center offers Raptor Camp for students in grades one through six.
"By caring for our birds, we're caring for our environment and hopefully they will grow up and sort of take that with them so they are good environmental stewards," education director Laura VonMutius said.
Students learn about conservation and habitats and get a behind-the-scenes look at how experts care for the center's birds. Camper Ella Warner said she loved visiting the service center.
"We got to see all the things the birds eat and we got to go into the freezer and we saw a whole chicken," she said.
Students also used newspaper and paper towel rolls to make toys for the birds. A favorite bird of the campers is Jeff. Jeff is a female black vulture who was named after a volunteer who took care of her when she first arrived at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey.
VonMutius said while a lot of people don't love vultures, they play an important role in our environment.
"Without them, we would be really sick. By cleaning up and taking care of all of the dead carrion, they keep us healthy," she said.
While VonMutius said most of the students will tell you how much fun Raptor Camp is, the message runs much deeper.
"And if you don't take care of the environment, then animals can die, birds can die and the food can get poisoned," Ella Warner said.
We're told Raptor Camp fills up very quickly. Registration typically opens in the spring.
If you'd like to learn more about Raptor Camp or how to visit the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, click here.