Adapted from Giovana Soria’s article that appeared in a recent edition of the Maryknoll Society Employee Newsletter. Ms. Soria is an editorial assistant with Revista Maryknoll, the organization’s Spanish-language magazine.
In the same manner that Maryknoll missioners teach people in poor countries to cultivate better use of the land to benefit and feed their families, two employees at the Maryknoll Mission Center in Ossining are Hudson Valley environmental missioners. They teach residents about the importance of caring for wildlife.
Raised in The Bronx and now residents of Westchester County, Rosann Monaro and Ivy Kelly have developed a close friendship at the Maryknoll Society. Besides their responsibilities to support the work of Maryknoll to help the poor around the world, they also share an interest in volunteering at the Teatown Lake Reservation nature preserve and environmental education center.
Monaro has been with Maryknoll for 15 years, and she currently serves as the executive assistant to the chief operating officer while also supporting the marketing, communications and human resources units. Kelly has been with Maryknoll for five years as an editorial assistant in the Orbis Books publishing unit.
Monaro and Kelly are part of a group of volunteers that help in the care and maintenance of Teatown’s non-releasable birds of prey. These birds are used as wildlife ambassadors in Teatown’s educational programs.
“We help a dedicated, expert staff of wildlife rehabilitators and educators in the training and everyday maintenance of their resident raptors,” said Kelly. “As a result, the staff trains us, as volunteers, to handle and care for these birds, as well as educate the public about the important role hawks, eagles, falcons and owls play in our environment. With our help, these birds can speak to dispel the fear society has of large predators and demonstrate their vital role in keeping our environment balanced and healthy. People who have never noticed before can see what a red-tailed hawk looks like up close and can pass the facts they learn on to others.”
It Started With A Walk
Monaro’s interests in birds of prey began when she was walking the grounds at Maryknoll.
“I saw a beautiful, huge bird on the ground with prey in its talons and I was awestruck,” said Monaro. “I asked a few friends who are birders and they told me what I saw was a red-tailed hawk. This interest led me to ask around about these birds, which led to me helping at the raptor program at Teatown. I attended one meeting and when they explained how important it is to become involved in the protection and preservation of these birds’ environment, that was my hook. I’ve been there for five years now.”
Kelly had a similar experience at Marymount College and has been with Teatown for 16 years.
“A huge bird came flying about an inch above my head, landed on the roof of a building and turned to look right at me. It was a red-tailed hawk. I researched places that cared for injured birds of prey and found Teatown.”
Monaro considers the opportunity to help with the raptor program a blessing.
“I feel closer to God when I’m near the birds of prey, because I see in them how beautiful God’s creations are,” said Monaro. “Like Maryknoll sends missioners overseas to teach the poor to farm with new methods and to develop clean water projects for communities, Teatown sends us to teach people how important wildlife is in our environment. Without hawks, owls, falcons and eagles, we would be overrun with mice and other small mammals, which would affect farmers’ crops and our neighborhood vegetable gardens. Falcons are instrumental in maintaining a healthy pigeon and blackbird population. It is important to take care of God’s creatures. He created all these things, and they all have their special spot on the earth.”
Kelly also appreciates all that she has learned from Teatown.
“My curiosity about the hawk led me onto a path that has rewarded me with knowledge, and the ability to pass that knowledge along to people who would otherwise never realize the important role these birds play in our ecosystem. The fact that every winter more and more eagles make the Hudson Valley their winter hunting grounds shows me that our laws banning pesticides and other toxic chemical use are working.”