Hawk Mountain Sanctuary celebrates reopening of education building

Item photo by Shea Singley A look at the Irma Broun-Kahn Education Building from the look out spot.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary celebrated the grand reopening of the newly renovated Irma Broun-Kahn Education Building on July 13.

What was once known as the common room is now named after Irma Broun who was the first caretaker of Hawk Mountain along with her husband, Maurice.

The day featured special programs on wildlife, nature talks and history of the sanctuary. A ribbon cutting ceremony took place after a dedication ceremony which included members of the Edge family, Rosalie Edge founded Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach, DCNR Deputy Secretary Cindy Dunn, Sanctuary President Jerry Regan and Ernest Elledge, CEO of the Irma Penniman Kahn Foundation.

“We’re here because of the dream of an individual, but other individuals who captured that dream and decided to be a part of it. That’s how dream grow. That’s how dreams go beyond generations,” said Leinbach.

He presented two proclamations to Regan and Elledge after he declared that July 13 would forever be known as the Irma Broun-Kahn Day at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County.

“I’m really proud and humbled to be able to be here today, because I’m not a part of the history of Hawk Mountain. Hopefully I will be going forward,” he said.

Following the county commissioner was Dunn who began with stating that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was pleased and proud to be a part of Hawk Mountain. She explained her own experience with nature as a young child and commented that it is difficult to instill that sense of wonder into children today as they stare at screens for hours or when outdoors are part of a structured activity.

“Hawk Mountain is providing incredible opportunities to instill a sense of wonder in kids. What I love about this facility is the unique exhibits,” said Dunn. “These are designed not to keep people in this building forever, but to inspire them and educate them and get them outdoors.”

Dunn spoke of the education aspect that the facility offers and referred to it as “fantastic” and “world class.” She believes that Hawk Mountain touches the lives of people not only in Berks County, but across the nation as well.

“This is creating a human infrastructure for conservation here in Berks County, here in Pennsylvania, across the country and across the world,” said Dunn. “Never underestimate the value of what you’re doing here and the impact of this one very special place.”

After Dr. Stephen Edge recalled his early memories at the sanctuary with his father who was on the board, Elledge spoke briefly about Irma and began by stating that as Irma would have kept the speech short so would he.

He spoke of Irma’s memory, as many of the speakers before him had, and how she was the gatekeeper protecting the land and the wildlife against hunters and other that wanted to use the land for their own personal gain.

“Well as it turn out, Irma is still the keeper of the gate, but she just opened the gate wide to allow all of you and all of those among us in,” said Elledge at the end of his speech.

After the dedication ceremony, the crowd filed out of the building and under the tent for the ribbon cutting. Elledge did the honors of cutting through the red ribbon and officially opening the building.

Along with the programs, attendees took the time to tour the newly renovated building. Shuttles were used to transport guest from the Visitor Center to the building and back. Stepping out of the shuttle, the guests walked on a solid mulch path past a look out and down stone steps to the expanded deck of the building.

Though the day was for celebration, Edge reminded everyone that Irma would approve of the celebration, but remind everyone that tomorrow it would be back to work.

“Today as we celebrate, we need to remember that there is still much to be done,” he said.