Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Kids! of the Month – June 1999 – Club Wild and Pfeiffer Flight School Students

Last Chance Forever – Students Reaching Out to Help Save Birds of Prey

“Touch…with your heart.”
– John Karger, Master Falconer and Rehabilitator of Birds of Prey
Last Chance Forever, a Bird of Prey Conservancy

Mr. Karger tells amazing Club Wild members about how they can help save a bird of prey

“Dear Mr. Karger,
One thing I will always remember is learning about raptors. I think it is sad that some birds die. I hope the birds get well. I am happy that you are saving them.”

– Second grade student at Pfeiffer Elementary School, San Antonio, Texas

“Dear Mr. Karger,
The show was great and amazing. I learned about the way golden eagles hunt for their prey. I didn’t know they use their feet for weapons. I will not forget the golden eagle.”

– Second grade student at Pfeiffer Elementary School, San Antonio, Texas

“I just can’t tell you how much our students learned from this project. As teachers, we can stand up and talk about how important it is for us to preserve our natural resources until we are blue in the face. But because they actually experienced this, our students will never forget how they made a difference in the life of a very beautiful creature.”
– Diane Haskell, teacher at Hannan Academy, Columbus, Georgia

“We have all been truly ‘uplifted’ by the events that have transpired this past school year. Watching the children’s eyes and smiles, and listening to their cheers of excitement when they saw the video of the hawk’s release is truly an inspiration – and a reminder. A reminder that we must give children the open doors that will allow them to make worthwhile achievements, and the opportunities for them to know what it feels like to be responsible for making everlasting impressions on others.”
– Dradyn Hinson, teacher at Hannan Academy, Columbus, Georgia

“The children who are here on this earth need you…and in some ways, the ones who are not here yet need you even more… because you hold their future in your passion and optimism and hope for their parents who are but small children today.”
– A parent of a Hannan Academy student

This month, Amazing Kids! is proud to honor the amazing love and dedication of students at Hannan Academy in Georgia, and Pfeiffer Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas. With great love in their hearts for all wildlife and for our Earth, the amazing students at Hannan Academy adopted an injured hawk so it could be healed and rehabilitated, and released back into the wild, its natural habitat. Then, the amazing kids from Pfeiffer linked up with Hannan’s students in an Internet project, using CUSeeMe (video conferencing technology for the Internet), to share in the experience.

Using the Internet, the Hannan students shared their story about adopting a hawk with the students from Pfeiffer. When the hawk was finally ready to be released in Texas, the Pfeiffer kids volunteered their help. Since Texas was too far for the Hannan students to travel, the Pfeiffer students pitched in, and went to the site where the hawk was going to be released. They cheered on the hawk as he once again was able to fly free! And they video taped the release, so the Hannan students could watch their adopted hawk be released.

These amazing Hannan students in Club Wild are already planning their next ‘Adopt-a-Hawk” program! And the amazing Pfeiffer elementary students were so excited and touched by their experience that their school is going to start a similar “Adopt-a-Hawk” program next year!

Read their inspiring stories below, and who knows? Maybe you’ll want to help adopt a hawk, or another bird of prey too!

Meet Amazing Chance!

Chance Ruder is an amazing 6 year old first grader at Hannan Academy in Columbus, Georgia. He is a very lucky boy because he is an apprentice to a Master Falconer! (An apprentice is someone who is learning a special new skill or knowledge from someone who is older and wiser and knows an awful lot about it!)

Chance at the cage of an injured red-tailed hawk.

Chance at the cage of an injured red-tailed hawk.

The master falconer, John Karger, lives in Texas where he has been teaching Chance how to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned birds of prey such as eagles, owls and hawks and release them back into the wild. Mr. Karger’s non-profit bird sanctuary, Last Chance Forever, a Bird of Prey Conservancy, is located in San Antonio and cares for about 300 birds a year in the center. That’s a lot of birds!

#693 – A Beautiful Red-Tailed Hawk

In His Own Words…

Here, in his own words, Chance tells about the special friendship between a master falconer, his apprentice and the bird:

“There is a Magic-ness about a master falconer that is hard to tell about. A falconer is able to meet a bird in a certain place in his heart and they learn to trust each other so they can work together and hunt together. A falconer is a person who sees the world like a falcon and is able to talk to one with his spirit and it can talk back, and when they do this, there is magic. The falconer brings the bird into his life and he gives him a part of himself and he helps the bird to heal if it has been hurt. Sometimes this could take years and years and the falconer will get old with the bird and maybe get a white beard. You can only learn falconry from a master falconer because it is not just about body and thinking things. There’s a lot of heart things too. It is more about how you think than what you know and that means at soccer and at school and when you’re alone.”
– by Chance Ruder, 6 yrs. old, from his upcoming book, Strike the Hood

Master Falconer John Karger and facilities manager Sherry, with injured bird at Last Chance Forever,
San Antonio, Texas

Chance Gets an Idea…

Chance decided to start an Adopt-a-Hawk program at his school, Hannan Academy. The program was nicknamed “Pennies for Raptors,” because the students donated their pennies to help.

Amazing Hawk Helpers:
Dedicated Hannan teacher Dradyn Hinson joins Chance and his brother Josh as they stay after school to count the pennies donated by the amazing Hannan Academy students!

Chance encouraged his school to get involved in adopting a single injured red-tailed hawk and paying for its rehabilitation. Everybody, including his teachers and the other students loved the idea! They got right to work, and in a short time the school raised over $700.00!

Chance & friend show Club Wild members a picture of #693, their adopted hawk!

Chance & friend show Club Wild members a picture of #693, their adopted hawk!

With the help of his amazing friends, teachers and mother, Chance is now planning to help start similar projects across the United States! Like other boys and girls, Chance loves all wildlife. He loves sharing his message with other kids, about how important it is to help keep our planet healthy. That way, it will always be a safe place to live–for both human beings and animals!

Chance’s Other Amazing Accomplishments

Because of his amazing efforts, Chance was selected as Georgia’s Pioneer Student of the Year and in April, 1999 was named one of 3 national finalists in the American Humane Association’s “Be Kind to Animals Kid” contest. He’s written a book, done TV and radio interviews and participates in the school demonstrations on stage with his falconer. He and his amazingly smart brother Josh (7) produce teaching videos for students as a way to promote conservation of wildlife.

Chance, like other Amazing Kids, is always looking for ways to reach more people – especially kids! Chance’s inspiring story is an example of just how amazing kids can be! By doing things that promote helping birds of prey and their conservation, he is inspiring more kids to help them too!

If you have questions about how you can help injured or sick birds of prey, email Janey & Petey, two friendly canine mascots at Last Chance Forever who will be glad to help answer your questions: JaneyPetey@aol.com.

Mrs. Hinson’s Story

“It seemed that the children began to feel a part of something special, something real. They saw how good it felt to give for the benefit of another, and they felt the unity among us – as we worked to achieve a common goal – a goal that might not otherwise have been accomplished had we not worked together.”
– Mrs. Hinson, Spanish teacher, Hannan Academy

“I’m the Spanish teacher at Hannan Academy. I have always been an advocate of wildlife and protecting our earth. When Diane Haskell (Hannan 1st grade teacher) and I realized that we shared this same devotion, we decided to begin a club at school – Club Wild – which would be dedicated to protecting our precious earth and its wildlife. Chance immediately became a member, and Angela (Chance’s mom) jumped right on board with us. Chance is the one who inspired Club Wild to sponsor an Adopt-a-Hawk project and his cause – protecting our birds of prey – became our own.

For months, children at school brought in pennies. Many of the students come from families who don’t have a lot of money, and anything the kids could give was a giant step ahead. One first grader brought in six pennies that were given to her by the toothfairy! It seemed that the children began to feel a part of something special, something real. They saw how good it felt to give for the benefit of another, and they felt the unity among us – as we worked to achieve a common goal – a goal that might not otherwise have been accomplished had we not worked together.

We raised over $750! We had enough money to adopt a hawk, buy Mr. Karger a plane ticket to come to our school and present his program with one of his falcons, and we purchased a program called CU, See Me. It is software and video conferencing equipment that allows us to communcate live and in person with Last Chance Forever and our buddy school in Texas, Pfeiffer Elementary.

The amazing Pfeiffer students have been following our hawk project and have been our Texas ambassadors and cheering section. #693 – our red-tailed hawk – became a very special part of our school. (Because the birds are wild, they do not get named). For months, we followed his progress. Videos and e-mails let us know when he was flying again and when he began to capture his own prey again. Children sent Valentine’s and get well cards to him.

Finally, #693 was well and able to be released back into the wild. Ms. Haskell, her assistant, Cheryl, and myself ‘flew’ (excuse the pun) to San Antonio to Last Chance Forever, the bird of prey conservancy that was responsible for our bird’s rehabilitation. On April 8, 1999 at 2:45 p.m., we released our cherished friend.

We have all been truly ‘uplifted’ by the events that have transpired this past school year. Watching the children’s eyes and smiles, and listening to their cheers of excitement when they saw the video of the release is truly an inspiration – and a reminder. A reminder that we must give children the open doors that will allow them to make worthwhile achievements, and the opportunities for them to know what it feels like to be responsible for making everlasting impressions on others.

Diane and I are working on another project for next year. It is called “Look Up: A Raptor Ambassador Program”. We are in the process of looking for organizations who will fund grants to support it. This program, which is just in the making, will consist of a group of students who will travel to schools and other community organizations to present a multi-media program. The program, led by and geared toward kids, will focus on raptors and their precarious position in our world as an indicator species, the food chain, nature’s checks and balances, and the value of life. It will be inspirational and motivational.

Kids need to hear from other kids, and kids are the ones we need to reach. Mr. Karger, the master falconer says, ‘Touch…with your heart.’ Raptor ambassadors will do just this. When you touch the heart of a child, you have really done something. (These days, it can be difficult sometimes to touch the heart of an adult.)

Our ambassadors will also be responsible for staying in touch with the people they have presented to and offer suggestions and encouragement on how they can become active advocates for our birds of prey and our earth. We are hoping that it will lead to a chain reaction of programs popping up all over. Our kids will also respond to e-mail questions sent to us on our Hannan Club Wild website.

Take care and fly high!

Dradyn
dradyn@aol.com

Mrs. Haskell’s Story

“Because they actually experienced this, our students will never forget how they made a difference in the life of a very beautiful creature. They can tell you all about indicator species and food chains and how important each link is. Even roaches! We have not killed a roach since John was here. We put them outside, very carefully, because they are decomposers.”
– Mrs. Haskell, first grade teacher, Hannan Academy

“Club Wild’s ‘Adopt-a-Hawk/Pennies for Raptors’ was such a great project and our students have learned so much about things like food webs and food chains, the balance of nature, and the value of every life–to mention just a few.

I have had Chance in my first grade class this year. What a wonderful experience! It became evident the first time I talked to Chance that he has a passion for protecting birds of prey. Even at his tender age, he seizes every opportunity to educate others about the importance of these birds.

Our school mascot is a hawk and when Angela and Chance approached me with the idea of raising money to adopt an injured bird of prey from Last Chance Forever in San Antonio, it sounded like a great idea to me. I love doing different and unusual things and the timing was perfect.

A penny drive was one of the options we discussed as a fund raiser. Since I had coordinated one several years before, I was certain it would work. We got the principal’s approval and Chance charmed the school’s Leadership Team with a presentation which included a video that he had made with his brother Josh’s help. They all loved him and the idea!

I typed announcements of the project for each teacher and asked that they share it with their students. Each student also received a notice to take home to parents explaining the project to them. I collected quart mason jars and my husband cut out the lids (like a bank) for each classroom, the media center, cafeteria, and office. We put a large water jug (empty, of course) in the lobby to catch visitors who came to the school. Each jar had a label which said ‘Change For A Chance To Survive.’

While all of this was going on, our curriculum-related clubs began meeting. I have always been the sponsor for the Garden Club, but this year Dradyn (another Hannan teacher) and I decided to do a ‘Club Wild’ to fit our project. So, Club Wild became the official sponsor for the Adopt-A-Hawk project. Club Wild members delivered the jars to each class with the help of our mascot. Angela wore the hawk costume and Chance explained to the classes why we were doing this project. This really got the kids excited!

Collections were made every Friday afternoon. Each class sent their jar of change to the lobby where Angela (in hawk costume) and Club Wild members were waiting. After that, we counted pennies, some days until 6:00! We had promised the class which collected the most money a pizza party. The first week we collected almost $200. It truly was amazing. The majority of our
residential students come from low income, single parent homes where money is in short supply. We had children giving tooth fairy money, ice cream money, and pennies found on the walk to school. It was incredible how loving and generous they were.

Each class had a thermometer posted on the wall by the cafeteria and these were updated each Monday morning. The caption was ‘How’s Your Hawk Temp?’ We also made Burma Shave signs to post along the drive in front of the school as reminders on Thursday and Friday mornings. Chance and other Club Wild members made videos for our morning news show to update students, teachers, and parents about the penny drive.

After we received the news that a red-tailed with a broken wing had been brought in to Last Chance Forever and would be our adoptive hawk, the excitement increased. We had a hawk with a number! #693! and a picture! (Birds of prey are wild, and do not get named.) The very large picture was put on an easel in the lobby. John Karger, from Last Chance Forever, began sending us video updates on #693. We also have an email address (JaneyPetey@aol.com) where the children could write and ask questions about raptors in general as well as about #693.

When we ended the penny drive, we had over $700. We paid for the adoption, purchased CUSeeMe software (Internet video conferencing software) and helped purchase John’s ticket to Georgia. As we approached the time for John’s visit, March 8, I began to be concerned that our students weren’t really prepared to truly appreciate this experience. So Angela and I went to each classroom and talked to the students about what they would see and what we expected of them.

When the big day arrived, it went so smoothly! The demonstration and John’s message to the kids was awesome! And their behavior was wonderful. Because they had seen John on so many videos, they felt like he was a longtime friend.

When John was here he told us that #693 would soon be ready for release back into the wild. Dradyn, Cheryl Aviles (my paraprofessional and also a Club Wild sponsor), and I decided that we had to be in Texas when he was set free. We flew to Texas during our spring break and were there when #693 flew free. Even now when we talk about it we get teary.

I just can’t tell you how much our students learned from this project. As teachers, we can stand up and talk about how important it is for us to preserve our natural resources until we are blue in the face. But because they actually experienced this, our students will never forget how they made a difference in the life of a very beautiful creature. They can tell you all about indicator species and food chains and how important each link is. Even roaches! We have not killed a roach since John was here. We put them outside, very carefully, because they are decomposers.”

Diane Haskell
Gagamom@aol.com

Pfeiffer Flight School

Sue Calberg, amazing mother of a Pfeiffer Elementary School student tells the inspiring story of how Pfeiffer, in San Antonio, Texas, and Hannan Academy, in Columbus, Georgia, used Internet technology to link up and helped prepare their adopted hawk to be released back into the wild:

Amazing Mom Sue Calberg and owl friend

Amazing Mom Sue Calberg and owl friend

“Because Angela (Chance’s mom) and I do so much with Last Chance Forever, we thought it would be cool if we could use technology to link the two schools our kids attend. When Hannan started making plans to adopt hawk #693, we at Pfeiffer started making plans of our own.

We invited John Karger to bring a bird demonstration to our campus. We videotaped the entire program, with a special greeting at the top for all the members of Club Wild. We wanted the Hannan kids to be able to get a little taste of the excitement that would be coming to their campus during John’s visit there. We also wanted the Georgia crew to be able to see lots of different kinds of raptors since we knew John could take only one bird with him on his trip.

After a marvelous flying demonstration on the playground, we took a small group of kids into the Pfeiffer computer lab for a CU-SeeMe (video pictures on the Internet) hook up with Hannan. Our kids were thrilled when they saw and heard the members of Club Wild on their computer screen. There were some technical problems with the session, but it was an exciting time that absolutely filled us up with a need to try again.

In no time at all, hawk #693 was ready to be released and since the Hannan kids couldn’t come all the way from Georgia, we sent some very lucky Pfeiffer students to take part in this unforgetable experience. Many of the Pfeiffer students have never visited the countryside. I am a writer by trade but it’s difficult for me to put into words what it’s like to take a child who has never been out of the city to a place like the heaven on earth where we released hawk #693.

The 5,500 acre Bamberger Ranch is cradled in the gently rolling hill country near Johnson City, Texas. The ranch is named Selah (E-mail selah@tstar.net), which is a biblical term used in the Psalms that invites the singer or reader to pause and reflect before going on to the next psalm. During the ninety minute drive from our San Antonio campus, we were able to reflect on many natural wonders. A blanket of wildflowers stretched out to the horizons as we made the trip.
We practiced our map reading skills as we enjoyed seeing horses, cows and even a few white-tailed deer.

We arrived at the ranch under a cloudless blue sky on a picture perfect day. The children were thrilled when they learned that we’d be taking a hayride from the property entrance to the release site deep inside the ranch! Ranch owner J. David Bamberger took us to a high point that offered a beautiful overview of ideal raptor habitat, a serene pond surrounded by grassland and a wide variety of trees. The children all agreed, if they were #693, they’d feel very happy about this home.

As the time for release drew near, the children talked about what the hawk might be sensing, what it might feel like to be taken from a dark crate into the bright light of day, what it might feel like to be suddenly set free. And then it happened! A broken wing, a captive soul, healed by a surgeon’s skill, a falconer’s heart and lots of pennies and prayers from children half a continent away.

The strong hawk soared. The children cheered. The bird never looked back. The children always will. Selah! They will forever remember the day they helped make a difference. And they will do it again.”

Warmest regards,

Sue Calberg

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