World Bird Sanctuary Executive Director Walter “Stormy” Crawford outlined his vision for an educational center in northern Ste. Genevieve County last Thursday during the Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce’s monthly membership meeting.
Now, he’s looking for assistance from those who want to help make his vision a reality.
The World Bird Sanctuary’s Hawk Crest Environmental Education Center proposal would develop 450 acres along Highway Y where the tiger sanctuary was located.
Crawford, a Vietnam veteran who founded the World Bird Sanctuary in 1977 with the support of Marlin Perkins, is a Ste. Genevieve County resident. The World Bird Sanctuary has its headquarters in St. Louis County, and Crawford said people have asked him about undertaking a project in Ste. Genevieve County.
The property belongs to Clete Stratman, who Crawford said has done considerable work to rehabilitate a building on the property to be used as a visitor’s center and classroom.
Crawford plans to offer two programs that meet state-education standards and will be geared for kindergarten through fifth-grade students in the first year and expanded to older age groups in future years. An interactive program for kindergartners and first-graders would use birds, reptiles and mammals as well as touchable artifacts. The program for older students would include an owl, a hawk, a vulture and a falcon. He said the goal would be to make the environment relevant to children who attend and make them aware of the wildlife in Missouri.
The World Bird Sanctuary, Crawford said, conducted 981 programs last year and averages 90,000 visitors per year to its location in Valley Park.
He hopes to build two trails on the property, and he is asking for financial assistance or in-kind contributions ranging from assistance building handicapped-accessible restrooms to classroom chairs.
“We would like to open up next summer,” Crawford told the Chamber members. “It’s important that we do it now, not later.”
Crawford said he realized the current economic climate but he wants the community to be involved and invested in the project.
“We used this process on many other satellite facilities before with success,” Crawford said.
He envisions the opportunity for Scouts to become involved by taking on projects to earn Eagle Scout Service Awards or Girl Scout Gold Awards. He envisioned most of those projects to be related to the outdoors portion of the project.
Crawford said he would like to see two trails—one for songbird walks and another for educational walks with a guide who can point out habitats and other things in the environment. His proposal also projects an owl prowl on Friday nights in the late winter months.
“You can’t teach kids about the environment without taking them out in the environment,” Crawford said.
Crawford said two staff members would have to be on the grounds at all times under federal regulations to maintain the birds.
He anticipated the operating budget for the center’s first year to be $52,000 for utilities, salaries, bird food, insurance and educational literature. He said that didn’t include in-kind work such as carpentry, plumbing and any other possible donations.
He told the Chamber he is looking for “a benevolent person or individuals” to help.
The World Bird Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which means any donations would be tax deductible.
Crawford can be contacted at the World Bird Sanctuary at (636) 225-4390. He will have information about the project available at his exhibit at the Felix Valle State Historic Site during Jour de Fete, August 11 and 12.