Eva Dillon, 15, an Elverson resident, recently attended the Wildlife Leadership Academy (WLA) to learn about the Ruffed Grouse, Pennsylvania’s state bird.
There are four other camps under the umbrella of WLA that focus on other important PA wildlife species: White-Tailed Deer, Brook Trout, Bass, and Ursids. This intensive, week-long program just outside of State College is geared towards educating and empowering today’s youth in conservation. The camp is centered around the importance of gaining the insight and leadership skills needed to educate our communities about Ruffed Grouse and habitat conservation.
Some of Eva’s highlights from this camp were learning about Grouse anatomy with a hands-on necropsy (dissecting Grouse and examining their inner anatomy), Grouse hunting through a field demonstration with hunting dogs, and habitat surveying to learn about habitat management and conservation.
In addition to these great field work opportunities, there were many interesting lectures given by influential biologists, professors, wildlife veterinarians, photographers, and even the president of the Ruffed Grouse Society.
Arguably the most important part of this camp is what happens afterwards. Students take what they’ve learned on the road. This outreach effort could be educating their communities about conservation and the Ruffed Grouse, putting in service hours at local parks and environmental centers, or even taking friends and family out to explore outdoor activities such as fishing and birding.
Eva is planning on working with her community to help in any way she can, from education to service, for years to come.
If this interests you, be sure to check out Eva’s tri-fold board at Henrietta Hankin Library (Aug. 2 through 19), visit Wildlife Leadership Academy’s website at http://wildlifeleadershipacademy.org/ or contact Katie Cassidy, the program director by email at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you know a high-school age teen who would enjoy the camp, feel free to nominate them on the website.