Volunteering for Wildlife is a Family Affair!
As Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks and the the Department of Interior’s representative on the Chesapeake Bay Task Force, one would think that Eileen Sobeck had enough on her plate without volunteering to do more. But last summer after a field trip to see restoration activities on Poplar Island, that is exactly what she did.
Ms. Sobeck learned that the Chesapeake Bay Field Office was placing common tern and least tern decoys on the island to attract these birds to safe places so that conservation construction would not have to shut down until nesting was complete.
The decoys were being made and painted by staff and other volunteers. At the end of the trip Ms. Sobeck volunteered to paint all of the decoys. She picked up about 200 unpainted and partially painted decoys and recruited her 82 year-old mother Katie, and Emma, her 18 year-old daughter to help.
Common tern, USFWS photo, Katie Sobeck and Emma Gosliner, photos by Eileen Sobeck, least tern, USFWS photo.
“My mother is something of an artist and has always been handy with crafts,” said Eileen Sobek. “Even though she lost her right index finger to cancer a couple of years ago, she painted all but a few dozen of the least terns. And those last few were painted by my daughter, Emma. My role has been limited to picking up and dropping off boxes of decoys, spray painting the base coat of white paint and putting on the final coat of clear sealer.”
Altogether the Sobeck ladies did a great job! The decoys are ready and will be placed on Poplar Island in April, prior to the birds’ nesting season.
The Paul S. Sarbanes Ecological Restoration Project at Poplar Island, located in Talbot County Maryland, uses material dredged from shipping channels to restore the island, creating shallow water habitat for bay grasses, crabs and fish and marsh and upland habitat for colonial nesting birds, shorebirds, waterfowl, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
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