Holiday Open House at Soldiers Delight
Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc. (SDCI), the Friends group supporting Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in Owings Mills, Maryland, was pleased to participate in a festive Holiday Open House hosted by Patapsco Valley State Park, under whose purview this protected wilderness has operated for several years.
Eager to utilize a networking opportunity to raise funds for our ongoing conservation efforts to benefit the endangered ecosystem, we organized a bake sale in the visitor center auditorium to take place during the Open House. Paula Becker, volunteer coordinator for Soldiers Delight's Serpentine Ecosystem Restoration Program (SERP) and a baker extraordinaire, recruited volunteer bakers for the event and donated much of her own time and ingredients to bake a plethora of sweet delights for us to sell. Another longtime SDNEA supporter, Donna Shoemaker, contributed scores of delectable pastries, all imaginatively themed to suit activities or creatures found on Soldiers Delight acreage. Several SDCI board members also baked, resulting in an abundance of delicious treats to adorn our bake sale tables.
|Master naturalists Chris Volrath and Bonnie Pavlak spar with invasive branches at the Holiday Open House at SDNEA|
Sitting at table near the lobby, author Jack Wennerstrom and photographer Frank Wisenewski autographed copies of their latest collaboration, a coffee-table compendium of stunning color photographs of Soldiers Delight, accompanied by lovely prose. There are still some books left for sale at the visitor center if you need a perfect gift for the nature-lover on your list!
Outside, Skip Bird and Brenda DeLuna of the Westminster Astronomical Society, held forth in the parking lot with a large telescope outfitted with a solar lens for safely viewing the sun. Visitors took turns peering through the scope at the star which provides light and nourishment to our planet.
In our nature classroom, PVSP Scales & Tales naturalist Bryan Feylock displayed one of the raptors from our aviary, a majestic great-horned owl whose injuries from a car strike prevent it from ever returning to its natural habitat -- but do not detract at all from its regal bearing.
Sharing space in the auditorium with our bake sale was PVSP seasonal naturalist Courtney Birkmeyer, who led a holiday crafts program in which all manner of woodland creatures could be constructed of natural materials such as walnuts, acorns and sweetgum balls. Even some of the PVSP rangers and other staff got in on the fun, crafting jaunty snowmen from walnuts.
|Intrepid wildlife enthusiasts gather to tour the aviary at SDNEA, where they helped to chart the birds' food intake.|
All in all, the Open House was a sweet success, garnering several hundred dollars from the bake sale for our conservation efforts and enlightening many interested visitors about the unique and wonderful characteristics of Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area. It was fun to share what we love so much about Soldiers Delight. And now dozens more people have also learned to cherish the many attributes of our beloved habitat.