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Hoot and Harvest Festival Connects San Antonians to their Environment

By Jacob Stush | Nov 15 2016

October 29th was that time of year again for Mitchell Lake Audubon Center’s Hoot and Harvest Festival and the day did not disappoint. No sooner were the butterflies and bees warming themselves by the sun that the festival was ready and receiving visitors. The visitors themselves found warmth in the company of so many that care so much for our environment. Artists, naturalists, volunteers, musicians and even environmentally geared drone pilots showed off their craft while working hard to spark a flame of passion in the hearts of the onlookers.

The first of the attractions to draw in visitors from various places was Sea World’s animal exhibit. Participants observed an assortment of reptiles and birds, including a Roseate Spoonbill named Padre; a native bird to Texas coastal wetlands, and currently migrating through Mitchell Lake. Other attractions that kicked off the morning were butterfly and bird walks which showcased Mitchell Lake’s habitats, gardens and the wildlife that is drawn to them. New folks that found themselves at Hoot & Harvest were soon joined by two new butterfly species never before seen at Mitchell Lake; the Julia Helioconian and the Tailed Orange. Returning visitors to the center found old migrating friends like Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Blue-winged Teal on their Bird Walks. As the nature walks throughout the day progressed they yielded a diverse turnout of both wildlife and friends of nature.

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A dull buzzing sound accompanied the hustle of the day’s activities as Justin Moore’s Airborne Aerial Photography drone demos scoured the area in search of the perfect shot of the festivities. Visitors gazed at a live feed from the drone on a big screen TV where they received a perfect “bird’s eye view” of Bird Pond, the Pumpkin Maze and Hay Bale Bowling. The drone pictures also found the vendors hard at work, including Mitchell Lake’s annual native plant sale, featuring a variety of water-saving and pollinator plants native to Texas, Tom Kinsey’s Learn Nature booth, showcasing his collection of reptiles and amphibians, San Antonio Audubon’s annual book sale, Cindy Morowski’s Fine Art, Dexter Imaging and the American Honey Bee Conservation Association showing off their homemade, straight from the hive, Honey BBQ sauce, and Latino Outdoors (partners of Mitchell Lake). Participants’ curiosity was piqued by many information booths including booths from San Antonio Water System, Latino Outdoors, Home Depot, the Texas Bluebird Society, San Antonio Natural Areas, Green Spaces Alliance, Alamo Area Master Naturalists, Bexar Audubon Society, CPS Energy’s Tree Giveaway, and the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas.

About 1,500 visitors enjoyed the outdoors after finding our 1,200 acre home for birds, butterflies, and other native wildlife. Hoot and Harvest was a successful example of the San Antonio community exploring its southern roots and discovering one of the many eco-cultural treasures of South San Antonio. Bringing the community together to celebrate the environment and our mission of connecting people to nature will happen again Saturday, May 13, 2017 for our International Migratory Bird Day Festival.

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Jacob Stush

Jake came to Mitchell Lake Audubon Center from Erie, Pennsylvania but has traveled all around the east coast after completing simultaneous degrees in Secondary Social Studies Education and Spanish in addition to minoring in history and oceanography. After graduating and completing multiple field studies in education, English education to Spanish migrants, and even oceanography he decided to put his fieldwork to use in Environmental Education in a number of states including Rhode Island, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and most recently Maine. He has taught about reptiles, birds of prey, dissections, field equipment of oceanography, team building, educating itself and even sailing. Jake prides himself in his multidisciplinary approach to education and works to inspire as much passion as possible in his students at Mitchell Lake and beyond.

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