On May 1, the Land Trust’s nine staff members participated in a positive and motivating staff retreat at the Avian Conservation Center/Center for Birds of Prey (www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org). Marc Smiley, a renowned land trust consultant from Portland, Oregon, led the day’s agenda, facilitating and guiding staff members in developing a three-year set of goals and strategies for LOLT based on the community-wide Visioning and Strategic Planning process initiated this spring.
The retreat was held at a most appropriate location for energizing the staff with renewed focus on our mission of protecting land, the thickly forested and peaceful home of the Avian Conservation Center in Awendaw. The Center’s 152-acre property is protected by a conservation easement donated to LOLT in 2009, and houses a fully-staffed medical center for treating injured birds, the only response facility on the East Coast for treating oiled birds, and a collection of approximately 120 birds of prey used for education and scientific research.
During the lunch break, Center educational staff members Stephen Schabel and Audrey Poplin presented a flight demonstration for our staff at the outdoor flying field and amphitheater. We enjoyed watching the black vulture, the yellow-billed kite and the Ural owl display their flight and hunting skills. A highlight of our afternoon was witnessing the release of a red-tailed hawk back to the wild. The hawk had been brought to the medical center several weeks earlier due to an injury and was rehabilitated sufficiently to be released. She flew tentatively from the volunteer’s hands, and after a short rest on a pine tree limb, flew to the thickly forested edge of the flying field, then out of sight. Seeing up close and understanding the work the Center does underscores the importance of LOLT’s work in protecting land and minimizing human impacts on wildlife habitat.
Our staff left the retreat feeling enthusiastic and energized for the next steps in the strategic planning process.