The Raptor Center has an open house twice a year. It's part of a University of Minnesota event designed to let the public see what is going on. It's free and well attended by lots of families. One of the projects I'm working on is setting up The Raptor Center to sell binoculars in their gift shop.
For big events like the open house or the spring bird release, I try to be on hand and explain how to use binoculars and what to look for when choosing them. It's a great deal, because people can get GREAT binoculars at affordable prices and purchasing them through The Raptor Center benefits the injured eagles, hawks, owls and falcons.
I've been with The Raptor Center since 1998 and I remember when I first started in education, I wanted to do every event possible to handle birds and because I was so excited to talk about birds with anybody. It almost never fails to be cold and rainy on open house days so after the first two, I made a mental note to never volunteer for the outdoor raptor displays for the open house. Yesterday was no exception--rain and forty degrees. I felt bad for all the soggy volunteers and birds. When I would demonstrate digiscoping from inside the dry, warm building, I would aim the scope on the outdoor raptor displays and I think people got a huge kick out of the wet owls (above), as well as the dripping volunteers. Live and learn.
Speaking of educating the public, one of the things with doing booth programs is that from time to time you run into people who know way more about birds than you do--the information isn't always accurate or correct, but they certainly do know more than you. I was talking about that with Al Batt when I saw him at the Northwest Sports Show. He agreed and said that he sees that especially with young guys who have their sweetie on their arm and want to show off to impress her. He then added, "But, I'm on the guy's side and I want help him look good so I just go ahead and agree--sure, that's not common, but you sure did see a roadrunner in Minnesota. We guys gotta stick together."
I love Al Batt.