By Kara Bale for The Island Connection
The Avian Conservation Center, a renowned educational, conservation, and scientific organization in Charleston, has received a $10,000 Environmental Education and Stewardship Grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, the non-profit arm of Dominion Energy.
The grant will fund the Lowcountry Environmental Access Program, which combines the Center’s medical, educational, research, and conservation objectives to foster awareness, concern, and protection for South Carolina’s treasured natural resources in the face of increasing and dramatic growth trends and landscape scale alterations to crucial habitat areas.
The Lowcountry Environmental Access Program will utilize the critical insight gained from the professional medical treatment of injured birds in crafting a multidisciplinary, STEAM-based education curriculum aligned with SC standards for students, teachers, and individuals across the state. The power and beauty of raptors cast them as unparalleled ambassadors in public education, dramatically improving retention of program information among participants. A special focus will be placed on outreach in Jasper and Beaufort Counties. Jasper County also is home to Dominion Energy’s recently completed solar farm.
Additionally, this program will support a Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey to be conducted in January 2019. The annual count is coordinated nationally by the US Army Corps of Engineers as an important tool in monitoring the recovery of bald eagle populations. The Center manages the South Carolina component of the survey, which covers more than 1,500 miles of survey routes and coordinates over 135 volunteers.
Collectively this program will impact the lives of an estimated 2,000 students in the Beaufort region and more than 40,000 across the state, give more than 800 injured birds of prey and shorebirds a second chance at freedom, and contribute vital data on the health of bald eagle populations to a national survey. As human activity continues to impose rapid and dramatic changes on the natural landscape, these efforts will encourage environmental stewardship and improve natural spaces across South Carolina for future generations.
“Dominion Energy is truly honored to partner with the Aviation Conservation Center in educating K-12 students and the public about the importance of environmental stewardship,” said Kristen Beckham, external affairs representative for Dominion Energy. “By working with the Center for Birds of Prey, we can play an important role in educating the next generation, preserving natural resources and protecting critical wildlife habitats across South Carolina.”
Founded in 1991 in response to the crucial need of an avian conservation center in South Carolina, the Center utilizes the unique role of wild birds as unsurpassed indicators of the overall health of our ecosystem to preserve the future of the natural world, upon which we all depend. The Avian Center’s mission is to identify and address vital environmental issues by providing medical care to injured birds of prey and shorebirds, and through educational, research and conservation initiatives. The Center for Birds of Prey is the principle operating division of the Avian Conservation Center and is open to the public every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit TheCenterForBirdsOfPrey.org or call 843.971.7474.