Audubon of the Everglades will meet Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. for a special program by Dr. Richard Raid on “Barn Owls: Nature’s Mousetrap.”
Raid is the manager of the Barn Owl Project of the Everglades Research and Education Center at the University of Florida. His exciting presentation will provide insights about how barn owls provide a natural and non-poisonous rodent control measure for Florida’s valuable agriculture.
Raid recounted that, while volunteering at his child’s elementary school, he saw the need for agricultural awareness. So, he started Student SOAR — Sharing Our Agricultural Roots — a school gardening program. His passion for teaching and the outdoors inspires students and instills in them an appreciation of the importance of agriculture.
“My original intent was simply to establish some gardens at schools so that kids could actually see how vegetables are grown and where their food came from,” Raid said. “Agricultural awareness is very important to me.”
Never anticipating the overwhelming response from students and teachers, he quickly found the program blossom beyond simple gardens. Now more than 70 schools throughout Florida have SOAR programs, most of which were established by Raid himself.
“We’ve earned awards because of Dr. Raid’s input,” said Kathy Picano, a teacher of gifted fifth-grade students at H.L. Johnson Elementary School in Royal Palm Beach. “My children have opened their eyes to the environment. They want to recycle. They want to help, and they also want to find out more about careers in botany, zoology and environmental studies. I have many in college now; they come back to visit, and they share that the majors they are pursuing are because of Dr. Raid.”
A tireless educator, Raid has volunteered thousands of hours, working in the schools, with the Boy Scouts or the Audubon Society.
The Feb. 6 meeting and program are free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for light refreshments in rooms 101 and 102 at the FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center (6301 Summit Blvd. near Jog Road).
Also at the meeting, Clive Pinnock will speak about the February bird of the month, the American Bittern. For more info., visit www.auduboneverglades.org.