Spending his twenty years selling drugs in southeastern Washington DC during the crack epidemic, Rodney Stotts would be the last person one could imagine interested in falconry.
The ancient sport of capturing juvenile raptors and helping them survive into adulthood when they can care for themselves, falconry reflects their own experiences on the street and informs Stotts’ mission to help at-risk youth in low-income areas to avoid the kind of life that nearly ruined yours.
Your non-profit organization, Rodney Raptors, helps children from various institutions, schools and who take Rodney’s own falconry program, to open their minds to the possibilities of what life has to offer.
As a holder of a master falconry license, Rodney can capture juvenile raptors, including hawks, hawks, eagles, ospreys and owls, and raise them in captivity, as well as to rehabilitate birds that are injured by collisions with power lines. , buildings and other modern obstacles, and birds that fall from their nests like chicks.
Part of this is because being a bird of prey is dangerous and juveniles often die before reaching maturity.
Perhaps the power of seeing a hawk come with a hiss and land on Stotts’s glove affects the kids on his show just as much as seeing that it’s Stotts holding the glove in the first place, who said WUSA9 which is one of 30 black falconers in the entire population of 320 million people in the United States.
A different way
After landing in jail for 5 months during his years of drug dealing, Stotts knew that a person can only be described for his mistakes if he continues to make them and therefore had to change.
Stotts, who needed a pay stub to seal the deal on an apartment rental, got a job with the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC), which at the time was working to clean up the Anacostia River. It was through the ECC that Stotts first fell in love with animals, including raptors, as the founder of the group was a falconer.
“The first time I held a bird, period, it took me somewhere else,” Stotts, who was the subject of a documentary called The falconer, He said Christian Science Monitor. “Since I was changing from working with the birds and everything and watching myself change, I couldn’t go back to doing anything else.”
He is now the keeper of four Harris’s hawks and a red-tailed hawk on a seven-acre farm in Charlotte Court House, Virginia, where each bird lives in its own 512-cubic-foot aviary, and where it also keeps horses. The location is accessible to traveling schools and two separate nearby institutions: New Beginnings Youth Development Center, a youth rehabilitation center, and Capital Guardian Youth Challenge Academy, a military school for at-risk students in high schools in New York. Washington.
“The raptors that we have are all birds that cannot be released, which means that they will never be able to hunt, so if you look at a young person who is locked up and [whose] basically the future is determined by some mistakes they made in the beginning, you start looking at it like a bird, ”Stotts told WUSA9. “They are wounded for life, just like the young people.”
Their own falconry program teaches children how to work and care for birds, and upon completion, they receive a qualification certificate for entry-level veterinary skills, a potentially powerful motivator that can help them get on their way to a career. in nature.
The world needs people like Rodney Stotts, who break molds, borders and show people that there is no predetermined path for anyone.
(LOOK the video about Rodney below).
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