Adventures at the IAATE 2019 Conference

By Jackie Kent, Director of Education

In 1998 Walter Crawford, wildlife rehabilitator and the founder of the Wild Bird Sanctuary, was asked in an interview if education programming was an important focus for him, and his response resonated with me:

“With rehabilitation, we do this as a way to offset the damage humans have done, our ignorance and our arrogance. When we look at what has an impact, it has to be education. You can’t solve the problem until you get to the root of it.“


I’m mentioning Mr. Crawford here because it was a memorial scholarship set up in his memory that allowed me the once-in-a-lifetime experience of attending the 2019 International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE) annual conference in Orlando, FL. The four-day conference was a chance to learn so many things that we will implement at Philadelphia Metro Wildlife Center.

IAATE orlando badge.JPG


It was an honor to be able to attend alongside other great organizations, especially those from right here in Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Zoo, Elmwood Park Zoo, Hawk Mountain, and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center.

The presentations were mainly about training and husbandry as it relates to birds, but the principles can be applied to all of our education ambassadors to enhance their quality of life. Presenters were able to show us their training successes that incorporated a number of positive reinforcement strategies. We even got to take a field trip to Natural Encounters Inc Ranch to see where they train birds for many of the Disney programs!


Pied crow at NEI Ranch

Pied crow at NEI Ranch

Our education program is small in comparison to some of these larger organizations, but the motivations are the same: we all want what is best for the animals in our care, and we strive to keep up with the best practices within our line of work. What does this mean for PMWC’s permanent residents? Not only does it mean that we’re going to teach all of our old birds new “tricks”, it also means that we will build out all new enclosures for them to enhance their lives even more!

As we work to move our organization to a larger facility, we will rely on the continued support from our donors to create the BEST spaces for our wild ambassadors! We are able to thrive because of public support so please help us fulfill our mission by visiting our donate page!



If your school or organization would like a visit from our Wild Animal Ambassador Team, visit our education page or email Jacke@phillywildlife for more information!


And now...pictures of cool birds that live at the Natural Encounters Inc Ranch:

NEI Ranch Hornbill

NEI Ranch Hornbill

NEI Ranch King vulture

NEI Ranch King vulture

NEI Ranch Military Macaw

NEI Ranch Military Macaw

NEI Ranch Tawny eagle

NEI Ranch Tawny eagle

And, perhaps the best birds, the common pool duck

And, perhaps the best birds, the common pool duck