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‘Rescue Me’ course at CROW teaches campers wildlife care

By Staff | Jul 28, 2010

A group picture of the students who took part in the first "Rescue Me" course at CROW.

Last week, 11 children enrolled in the Sanibel Recreation Center’s Summer Camp program took part in an intensive, three-day training course that taught them all about caring for injured wildlife.

The course, called "Rescue Me," offered valuable information about how sick or injured animals on the islands are rescued in a safe manner and brought to the Clinic For the Rehabilitation Of Wildlife (CROW) for treatment, rehabilitation and — the ultimate goal — release back into the wild.

Lynn Ridlehoover coordinated the course with staff veterinarians and volunteers at CROW as well as with Rec Center counselors, giving instruction to the youngsters during the first two days and, on the final day, having each camper present a live demonstration of their newly acquired knowledge and wildlife rescue skills at CROW’s Healing Winds Visitor Education Center.

"I used to teach middle school, so I really enjoy working with this age group," said Ridlehoover, who noted the original "Rescue Me" course was to have been taught over three weeks. "If you listen to them, you can tell that they really understand what they’re doing. They learned a lot this week. I’m very impressed."

During Friday’s presentation, the campers were divided into groups. Each group talked about how to properly care for and treat sick or injured wildlife, using stuffed animals as substitutions for actual raccoons, squirrels and turtles.

Rec Center camper Chase Osiderio, left, receives a gift bag, stuffed animal and certificate of completion from CROW executive director Steve Greenstein.

"I think programs like this are great," said Emily Tinsen, a camp counselor for the Rec Center. "I used to be a student here at CROW. Something needed to be done that would bring together students and this facility. This is a wonderful way to educate children on how to care for injured animals."

Following the demonstrations, each camper received a gift bag (courtesy of course sponsor Bailey’s General Store), a stuffed animal and a certificate of completion from CROW’s executive director, Steve Greenstein.

"I’ve always loved animals," said camper Chase Osiderio, clutching his stuffed turtle. "I liked doing this because I wanted to learn how to rescue them. It’s been a great experience."

According to Ridlehoover, the "Rescue Me" course will return in September. She is also hoping that the students will be able to witness an actual wildlife release during the program.

"Something like this, these kids will carry that knowledge throughout their lives," she added.

Natalia Westlake demonstrates how to approach injured critters.