Reaching new heights
Steve Turnbull
Pi zoomie close up with staff

Virtual programs take flight

A critical mission of The Raptor Center (TRC) is educating others about raptors and inspiring stewardship of our natural world. Previously, much of this was done in person, but in the age of COVID-19, we have had to innovate new solutions to engage with the public. Now we have several exciting new ways you can connect with TRC and see our birds like never before! 

The first virtual program rolled out was Raptor Zoomies. This 15-minute program has a raptor and TRC naturalist “crash” online gatherings and surprise guests. Raptor Zoomies have been scheduled for kids' online parties, for team-building exercises, and as a break from the monotony of virtual business meetings — anytime you need to add excitement and joy to your virtual world! 

Virtual tour with red tail hawk

With changing school models and the challenges of teaching due to COVID-19, we rolled out a virtual field trip program that includes never-before-seen views of our center, along with interactive time with our experts and birds. We’ve coupled the tour with downloads and offline activities to reinforce key lessons and make this a robust learning opportunity. To help support families, educators, and students, we created this program so people could donate a field trip to a specific school, classroom, or learning group. Or donate to a general fund to deliver this program to underserved youth who might otherwise not be able to afford it. 

We also created a virtual classroom experience that combines our expertise and the thrill of live raptors with everyday classroom instruction. We can take over and lead a science class, teach math through raptors, or inspire creative writing and art activities. 

Along with our virtual work, we are still able to safely do select in-person programs at your location by following public health protocols. For example, we have had the pleasure of surprising frontline workers at hospitals with live birds as a way to bring joy and levity, and to thank these heroes for their crucial service. 

Thanks to the power of technology, we are able to bring our birds directly to you wherever you are—you can get closer to our raptors and see behind the scenes like never before! Furthermore, these new programs improve accessibility and can reach classrooms and participants well beyond our usual range. We’ve had people join us to learn about raptors from around the country, and we have even reached international audiences with our critical mission of conservation. You can learn more about these and other new, memorable virtual offerings and schedule one for you or your favorite organization at our website: raptor.umn.edu/programs-and-events/digital-programs