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August 28, 2023
Acorn Acres Wildlife Rehabilitation offers educational programming for all ages
Since its founding in 2020, Acorn Acres Wildlife Rehabilitation has been giving their furry patients a second chance at life in the wild while educating human neighbors on the importance of keeping healthy populations in our environments.
Specializing in squirrels, bunnies, and woodchucks, Acorn Acres is an incredible resource to Lancaster County and the surrounding areas, taking in these species for free and offering them a clean, quiet, and predator-free space to grow, thrive, and recover.
Another key aspect to this nonprofit’s mission is providing educational programs for local groups, schools, and events. Hosted by Founder, Executive Director, and Rehabilitator Betsy Shank, these programs feature two live animal ambassadors*—Snags the Squirrel and Elliott the Groundhog.
Along with an in-depth and interactive presentation, students get to see these animals up close, and although they don’t get to touch the animals, Betsy keeps group sizes under 30 participants so they can really understand what they are learning about. She also brings artifacts like pelts and teeth, so students get a true look at these creatures.
“I really strive to make these programs an experience they are going to remember,” Betsy said.
One of the most hands-on programs Acorn Acres offers is a STEM program where kids get to design, engineer, and build animals that are native to the environments they learn about. They learn what each animal eats, where it lives, and how it nests during Betsy’s presentation, and then get the supplies to display what they learned.
Betsy has a deep passion for both rehabilitation and education. She’s often asked why these animal populations are important to preserve since they aren’t endangered, and she answers with a quote from Margaret Mead: “The time to save a species is while it’s still healthy.”
“Squirrels are the number one propagator for forests and clean air, groundhogs are special creatures whose hibernation practices are being studied for treatment of heart patients, and all of them aerate our soil and disperse seeds, which is critically important to the food chain and our environment,” Betsy shared. “Once people learn these things, they look at these ‘pests’ in a completely different way.”
Acorn Acres’ programs are one to two hours long, and the content can be modified to cover topics that students are currently learning about. Betsy is happy to expand or pare down programs to fit your needs and allotted time slots. Schedule a session by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Acorn Acres’ goal is always to rehabilitate and release these animals back into the wild. However, sometimes that is not possible. Although Snags and Elliott are healthy, they permanently live at Acorn Acres as ambassadors.