Saturday, December 9th was a beautiful day in Sedona and drinking homemade hot cocoa and eating yummy cookies all while hanging out with some pretty cool raptors made it even better. The International Raptor & Falconry Center’s Youth Ambassador, Danae, hosted a fundraising event. For a couple of hours on top of Airport Mesa, people could choose from variety of hot cocoa flavors with toppings and homemade cookies and spend time with Finley, Coral and Kieran. Danae, who is also a Northern Arizona Audubon scholarship recipient, organized a fantastic coloring contest that created three winners. Her mother, Rena, hand drew our very own Finley! He is a handsome American Kestrel and all the artists did him great justice. By the way, Finley did quality check the sugar cookies before the event.
Finley was there socializing with everyone and loved every minute of it!
He did an abbreviated flying demonstration to show off his lure catching skills. There were some young boys and girls that got an experience they will not forget, when Finley sat on their gloved hands for a few minutes. There were some older boys and girls that enjoyed spending time with Finely and Kieran too. A few of NAZ Audubon board members were in attendance as well. Brent and Julie got some one-on-one time with Finley and Brent spent some time with Kieran. Dennis and Nanette were there for support as well.
Kieran, the Harris Hawk, had been very sick with a respiratory infection so, his appearance was quite momentous. It was this life-threatening illness that prompted the incredible Danae, at only 8-years-old, to host a fundraiser to offset the very expensive medical costs. IRFC is very fortunate to have such a sweet and aware soul as our Youth Ambassador. Danae was even recognized in Safeway while shopping for the event. This was the most successful fundraiser to date! This was a huge success because of two awesome ladies in particular, Rena and Danae Dearden.
About our Youth Ambassador Danae: IRFC cannot think of a better young person to champion our mission and inspire young people to care about raptors as well as lead the future generation of raptor conservationists. She is a leader beyond her years and we have no doubt she will carrying out the mission of making the world a better place for raptors with conviction.
Danae has shown a passion for raptors and strong interest in caring for them that can’t seem to be squashed. Her maturity and desire to learn is quite impressive. When she is old enough to start her falconry apprenticeship, which I’m sure will come no later than exactly ON her 12th birthday, it will be an honor for me (Michele) to sponsor her and witness her join the ranks of the very few female falconers.