June 2, 2018
By: Dwayne Page
A local girl scout was recognized Saturday morning in conjunction with National Trails Day at Edgar Evins State Park for her efforts in building an aviary at the park’s interpretive center to house two birds of prey, an owl and a hawk.
Neely Evans, member of Girl Scout Troop 1146 in Smithville, made the aviary her Girl Scout Gold Award Project.
Fount Bertram, President of the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park presented a plaque of appreciation to Neely during a brief aviary dedication observance.
Evans decided on the aviary as her project after finding the park was in need of a home for birds of prey in the park’s educational facility. Along with the outdoor aviary, Neely also included a storage area for food and equipment. Rangers at the park will feed and care for the birds while park maintenance workers will provide upkeep for the facility.
“Edgar Evins State Park has a special place in my heart. I have been a member of the Edgar Evins State Park Friends group for over five years and spent hundreds of volunteer hours in the park. It is my home away from home. Building this aviary for them to bring a new program to the park was very important to me,” said Neely.
“I think my favorite part of the project was seeing it finally done. It’s one thing to see it on paper but when it’s in front of you it’s a good feeling. The challenging part was learning how to use the tools to build the cage. I had to learn to use the tools I’ve never used before,” Neely said.
“I feel proud to know I helped the State Park that feels like family to me. I can go there and see what I have accomplished,” added Neely.
“We are proud of Neely and what she has achieved! Come admire this outstanding aviary and enjoy the birds,” said Bertram.
The Gold Award is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of the USA, earned by Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts.
Park Ranger Halfacre explained that “McKenzie”, the barred owl shown in the photo and video above, is blind in both eyes from a train accident. She is believed to be between 12 and 15 years old. Barred owls have an average lifespan in the wild of 10 to 15 years. McKenzie weighs about 1.8 pounds.