Karyn and I had the honor of volunteering at the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey on International Vulture Awareness Day. Karyn was contacted for her artistic skills and abilities, I was merely there for additional support. We were asked to lead a children's activity of a group painting of a vulture (each child paints a bit of the painting). For those of you who know the two of us personally, working with a large group of children was a terrifying prospect.
It all began a few months ago when our friend from Nairobi Kenya, Dr. Munir Virani, contacted us asking if we would participate (check out his amazing photography at his link). He would be in Boise for the event to talk about the huge decline in African and Indian vulture populations. He was interested in modeling a children's art project after a very successful program that was implemented in Kenya. We happily agreed, and then wondered what we got ourselves into!
Karyn performed all of the prep work in acquiring all of the supplies, sketching out some initial designs, and putting together a plan of how it would all work! The sketches were based on initial photographs provided by the Peregrine Fund. Neither of us knew what to expect and what the finished product might look like. We also didn't know how many paintings might be needed. Karyn decided to produce three sketches, we started with a California Condor in flight.
One of the challenges was to assign painting tasks to the various abilities within the groups of kids. The younger ones focused on the broad painting tasks like the sky, while the older ones filled in the detail.
Karyn had the original reference photo available and also a small rendition that she painted to help guide the progress, but all of the paint on the canvas was put there by the kids themselves.
Another activity for the kids was to create vulture masks. Here we have a vulture painting a vulture!
It was very manageable when only one or two kids were working at a time. Then a rush of 6 to 8 at a time! Trying to make sure they had mixed paint available, didn't destroy the painting etc. was a challenge. Many were painting over other's work. In most cases it improved the overall presentation!
Near the end of the day we started the second painting. This one would not be finished, but it was great to have another one to work on.
It was a hectic and stressful day. Both Karyn and I were exhausted at the end of the day. Of course, I was only the assistant. This was mainly Karyn's show as the photos illustrate. By all accounts it was a tremendously successful event. I believe everyone had a great time and learned a lot about vultures in the process.
Other events during the day included presentations by Chris Parish on the California Condor program, Dr. Virani on the African Vulture program, and flight displays of many live raptors including a Harpy Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Gyrfalcon and Aplomado Falcon. The Peregrine Fund put on a great educational event, which I hope will further the cause to help protect these fabulous creates. I am glad that we were able to contribute to the cause. You can too by educating yourself on the plight of vultures around the world and consider donating to The Peregrine Fund. They have a proven track record in achieving results on the ground (or I should say in "in the air")! I thank them and all of the families that participated!