My family has visited EVRC many times since it began. My daughter has gone on tours with school, and Ken Lockwood has come to her school a few times to do presentations for her class. Ken always does a fabulous job teaching the kids various facts about the raptors, while at the same time making sure the kids are respectful toward the birds. He asks the children questions to keep their attention and get them involved. The raptors at EVRC, as well as their environment, are well maintained. Repairs are made as needed to keep the animals safe while providing the best view possible for visitors. A sidewalk was recently put in to make the tours more accessible to those who are in wheelchairs. I have always enjoyed seeing the passion Ken has not only for his birds but also for making sure people leave EVRC having learned some new bit of information about the raptors. He strives to give everyone a new respect for these creatures and let them know what they can do to help take care of the environment the raptors live in.
I took a group of gifted students to the Center and Ken was wonderful with them, answering all their questions and allowing them as much hands-on experience as possible. Based on this experience, our primary school (K-6) had Ken bring some of his birds to present a program in the school. Again, it was wonderful and Ken did a wonderful job, especially making the perfect choice of the one student allowed to have a bird perch on her arm. I've heard many, students and faculty, say this was the best assembly they've ever had.
My husband and I are nature lovers, and I wanted a way to surprise him with something really special for our anniversary. We had been hearing about Eagle Valley for years in the news regarding rescues and releases of local birds like hawks, owls, and eagles (and sometimes unusual ones, like pelicans). I had heard the director would offer educational tours, so I scheduled one for just my husband and I. We were amazed at the tranquility and spacious rehabilitation facility this man has achieved simply by using his rural acreage to serve hurt wildlife. The pens are perfectly suited to the animals, they have spaces to practice their flying as they grow stronger, and the birds on their way to release are protected from human contact so they don't become too tame while recuperating. It is clear that Ken and his wife are FULL-time on this mission and have invested so much in their found orphans. Email updates keep supporters informed with stories and pictures of their triumphs and tragedies. Ken is also regularly appearing with his program birds (unable to ever be released to the wild) at Boy Scout events, local charities and fundraisers, news & community programs, schools, and the local science museum: Exploration Place. Ken also has a long-standing relationship with the University of Kansas State where their veterinarian program students and professors are invloved in all his serious bird health issues. The drive is over 2 hours, one way, but Ken will make the trip several times in a week if he has a raptor in serious condition. After spending an hour with Ken on our first tour, we understood the heart of this man for the orphaned and injured birds of our state. His program deserves your award demonstrating the level of professionalism, commitment, and community service Ken humbly and enthusiastically performs in our state every day of his life.
My introduction to Eagle Valley Raptor Center, Inc. was in the Spring of 2007. A pair of Great Horned Owls had a nest in a tree in our neighborhood, which we didn't realize. Upon returning home one evening after work, my husband told me to look out in the back yard. I saw something white and fuzzy in the distance. I asked him what it was. He said a baby owl. He said one of our neighbors had a Eagle Valley business card, which my husband used to contact them. My husband left a message on the answering machine. Ken Lockwood, Director of Eagle Valley, returned my husband's call after I got home. I spoke with Ken and told him there was a baby owl in our back yard. He told me it was imperative that we get it out of the yard right away. He told me to put on a ball cap and leather gloves and try to get control of the owl by getting ahold of his feet. He told me to watch out for his talons. He also told me that the owl would make a clacking sound at me, but it was just his warning to me. I was uneasy about reaching under the owl to get his legs, so I asked Ken if I could put a towel over him to gain control of him. Ken said yes, but be careful of his wings when you do that. He told me to put a towel in the bottom of a box and put the owl in the box and cover it with another towel to keep the owl calm. He asked if I could bring the owl to him as he was in the middle of taking care of an injured bald eagle. I told him that I would bring the owl to him. When I reached Eagle Valley, Ken looked at the owl and told me it was a great horned owl. I asked Ken why he had me put on a ball cap. He told me that it was to protect my scalp in the event the adult owls didn't like me messing with their baby and go after me. I asked Ken how he thought the baby got out of the nest. He said the wind could have blown it out or sometimes the adults will tear up the next in order to get the young owls to fly. This owl still had down on it, so it wasn't ready to fly yet. By the time I reached Eagle Valley, it was getting dark outside, but Ken took a flashlight and showed me around the facility and invited me back in the daylight to see their operation. Ken kept the baby owl, which I named Hooty and eventually ended up taking it to be fostered by an adult Great Horned Owl in another city. Since my introduction to Eagle Valley, I have returned numerous times taking family and friends to see this wonderful operation. I never get tired of taking a tour or hearing Ken talk about the birds. Being an animal lover myself, I appreciate Ken's care and concern for his raptors. He does a wonderful job of rehabilitating injured raptors (and other animals) and releasing back into the wild. If they are unreleasable after rehabilitation, he uses them in his educational programs he presents to the public. If he is unable to use them in his programing, he finds another facility that can take them. My hat is off to Ken and his volunteers for a job well done!
The Eagle Valley Raptor Center should not be such a well kept secret! Everyone should make plans to learn more about the animals we share our planet with. The raptors are amazing, there is much to be learned from them, and from Ken, who cares for them like nobody else. Go there, listen, watch, learn, and enjoy the majesty of these glorious birds. You'll be very glad you did!