Private Givng
Penn State Intercom......August 8 , 2002

Raptor Center visitor
leaves a $725,000 legacy

Fifteen years ago, Ruth C. Morris of Philadelphia had never visited University Park campus, and she had never heard of Shaver's Creek Environmental Center.

A mention of the center in an early '90s edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, however, led Morris to make a lasting connection with the center. This year Morris' estate bequeathed to Shaver's Creek a gift of almost three-quarters of a million dollars to create an endowment for the center's bird of prey program.

Morris became interested in the Raptor Center at Shaver's Creek and its injured birds of prey because of her mother's passion for birds. She visited the center in the early '90s and was treated to a tour by Shaver's Creek icon Frances Lewis, the first donor to create an endowment at Shaver's Creek.

Investment income from Morris' gift, the Purnell Cantwell Endowment, will support the programming needs of the Raptor Center, which includes the conservation of these birds through education that promotes the understanding and well-being of native raptor populations. The Raptor Center at Shaver's Creek is one of the nation's few environmental education centers that provide permanent homes for injured and rescued birds that can not return to the wild. Center staff members also conduct a variety of educational programs. These programs reach out to all ages and include day camps, animal adaptations programs and elderhostels.

In addition to supporting environmental outreach programs, Morris' gift also will allow the Raptor Center to expand its research and training efforts. The Raptor Center currently supports spring hawk-watching research that measures the health of the local environment, and it is part of an international project to band and monitor Northern Saw-Whet Owls.

Center leaders are in the beginning stages of planning for the endowment, but some future plans include youth scholarships for camps, development of an animal care for-credit program at the University, increasing destinations in off-site programs, expanding the number and variety of birds at the center, and improving and upgrading existing facilities and services.