2009-08-07 / School News

Students Learn About Falcons At JFK Airport

Students observe the falcons with their trainers. Students observe the falcons with their trainers. You might not think JFK airport would be the place to meet falcons up close, but that's exactly what a group of middle school students in the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance Environ- Mentor program did last month when they met up with Port Authority NY/NJ wildlife biologist Laura Francoeur at the airport.

'Guided through the open fields of the airport, the students were treated to an impressive display by Port Authority falconers as they gave the students a rare glimpse of what happens behind the scenes.

The students found themselves faceto face with two falcons perched calmly atop their trainers' fingers and learned from two expert falconers how their predatory birds were integral to the safety of each plane that leaves the airport. The birds are sent into the air to deter any other birds from flying within a one hundred mile radius of the airport, thus ensuring that planes will arrive and depart safely. The students questioned the falconers about their intensive training and the ways in which falcons are used for hunting. They were also able to watch the falcons eat.

Falconers display their birds. Falconers display their birds. Leaving the airport, the students expressed their surprise that two expert falconers were employed by the airport. Student Vivian Ogu remarked, "I didn't know there were jobs outside the zoo where I could have such a cool job working outside with animals!"

Most likely, not many people do know that such jobs exist, which is why the EnvironMentor program focuses so heavily on bringing students to meet with professionals literally "out in the field."

"I hope that experiences like this will encourage young people to seek rewarding jobs in unexpected places," says RWA Director Jeanne DuPont.

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