Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center, Inc.

Allison's Woods Drive, Statesville, NC


  Reconnecting Children with Nature

Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center

Reconnecting Children With Nature!


Daisy is an eight-year-old captive bred, imprinted (when an animal or bird recognizes a human as a parent or object of habitual trust) Goshawk who has been an active participant and teacher at Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center. Daisy helps Larry Dickerson, an Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center board member and avid volunteer, and others teach school children teachers, and parents about Birds of Prey, visual acuity, aerodynamics, and the predator/prey relationships in nature.

Daisy has thrilled thousands of students throughout her life both in Wisconsin and now in North Carolina. She actually seems very fond of children and is just as curious about them as they are about her. The children are fascinated that Daisy is not a pet and that she is so fast when she is flying and what she is able to see at tremendous distances. She is a hunter and works with her falconer to do what comes naturally to her...which is to hunt. She is a well-conditioned athlete. Daisy also has the natural tendency to want to perpetuate her species and have offspring, that is the reason she lays eggs, however she does not have a goshawk mate. This is where the science and biology come into play in order for her to have offspring (babies) Larry and Dr. Meg Robinson of Wisconsin have to intercede to help her.

As a part of the ongoing research into new, improved, or here-to-for unknown scientific and biological processes, Dr. Robinson continues with her research and veterinary techniques in the ongoing development of "in-shell" insemination with a focus on the Northern Goshawk.

The Northern Goshawk (accipiter gentiles) is a wide ranging, raptor species. There are several different species of the goshawk throughout the world, but this project focuses on the member of the species that is commonly found in the northern portions of the United States and Canada. The purpose of the project was and is to prove a very specific procedure to successfully inseminate (fertilize) infertile goshawk eggs that had been laid by goshawks owned by falconers who voluntarily participate in the project. By using these particular eggs, it was known that there would be (1) no impact on wild populations because eggs would not be taken from the wild, (2) all eggs were known to be infertile proor to the procedure on the eggs, (3) all participants were required to have captive breeding or raptor propagation permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (4) all associated costs would be the responsibility of the participants.

One of these participants is Larry Dickerson of Statesville, and his bird, Daisy. As a female of the species, Daisy began laying eggs last year when she was seven years old. In 2015 Daisy laid two eggs (a normal clutch size is 3-4) and both fertilized using the "in-shell" technique by Dr. Robinson. The eggs were carefully packaged by Larry and flown to Wisconsin where Dr. Robinson picked them up, performed the procedure, repackaged the eggs and had them flown back to North Carolina, all within 24 hours. Sadly, Daisy broke both of the eggs about three weeks later. Because we did not have monitoring cameras then, we do not know exactly what happened.

This year (2016), Daisy laid three eggs. The first egg, which was known to be infertile, was flown to Dr. Robinson, inseminated and returned, again within 24 hours. In the meantime, artificial insemination was used to hopefully gertilize eggs 2 and 3, so this year the project focused on not only the fertilization of eggs but the development of at least one healthy chick. Right now we do not know if that was successful but will be using some pretty sophisticated instrumetns in the next couple of weeks to determine if any of the eggs are fertile. It is difficult to explain the instrument, but think of it as a type of ground penetrating radar, but much, much, much, smaller. It is non-invasive and in no way puts the eggs at any risk.

If we are successful this year, it will be a milestone in this type of captive breeding and has the potential to benefit a wide range of avian species. This year Daisy is one of only two female goshawks participating in this project so far. Other falconers and avian specialist may join in in the future, but it all depends on success. Success will not be easy and even if the egg is fertile, mortality among all young birds is very, very high. It is also time consuming and meticulous records are being kept as well as recored video surveillance.

Larry and Daisy will miss the opportunity to personally be with our school children this spring, but we hope that if you are interested you will follow her progress on our Face Book page.

This is just one more example of how Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center is involved in top quality science education through our partners and on site teachers.



Sharon School 2nd Graders Visit!!!



As a state recognized Environmental Education Center since 1993, we will continually be hosting educator workshops for credit:

Project WET, Project WILD, Flying WILD, Growing Up WILD, and Project Learning Tree.

Please check our calendar for upcoming workshops.

Project WILD is an interdisciplinary conservation and environmental education program emphasizing on wildlife. The goal of Project WILD is to assist students of any age in developing awareness, knowledge, skills, and commitment to result in informed decisions, responsible behavior, and constructive actions concerning wildlife and the environment. Participants receive the Project WILD activity guide and qualify for CEU and EEU credits.

Project WET is an interdisciplinary  water science and education program for formal educators of K-12 students. The keystone of the Project WET program is the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide. The hands-on supplemental activities are meaningful and relevant to children and are correlated to the 2014 North Carolina Essential Standards for Science, Social Studies, and Health Education for grades K-8 and for High School Earth/Environmental Science and Biology. The Project WET Guide is only available through a 6 hour Project WET workshop. WET is a Criteria I workshop for the NC Environmental Education Certification and consists of 6 contact hours that may count toward CEU's for teachers.

Project Learning Tree works for teachers because:

PLT materials are aligned with the state and national education standards.

PLT is broad based: topics cover the total environment and are local, national, and global in scope.

PLT provides the one great lesson a week you wish you had time to plan.

PLT is adaptable to many contexts: classroom, playground, nature center, and home.

Project Learning Tree gets kids outside.



5k race to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Iredell-Statesville Schools JROTC came out for a community project and cookout.

JROTC from across the state conducted a weekend event recently.

Boys Scout Camporees continue each year and conduct volunteer projects

Monthly 4H Scientific Avengers club meetings.

5K race to benefit the Humane Society (The Dog Run)

The Annual Butterfly Count for North Carolina on August 28

Allison Woods OLC was pleased to welcome Jim Nottke and his folks again to conduct the annual butterfly count. From the report given, we understand there were 747 adult butterflies located of 42 species. An uncommon find were two checkered whites, reported only once before in Iredell County in 2005. Some of the species spotted were: Tiger Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, Checkered White, Cabbage White, Orange Sulphur, Cloudless Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, Gray Hairstreak, ETB, Azure, American Snout, Variegated Fritillary, Great Spangled Fritillary. We certainly look forward to their next visit to see what can be found!

North Carolina State Guard Clean Up

Many thanks to the NC State Guard for coming out and assisting with a massive clean up of downed trees due to recent storms in the area. Thanks are the best!