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A Warner Legacy

My Warner Nature story I have a lot of stories, but decided I should share one that touches many aside from myself. I started in the spring of 2002 as a raptor handler after 3 training sessions with Linda Wadsworth. I work a full-time job, but have always arranged to get off early on Friday’s to volunteer. This was the perfect fit for me. Warner quickly became my happy place. My duties could get done in 2 hours with 4 raptors, but many times 4 hours could pass without notice. After all, I was in my happy place.

Warner rubbed off on my family and I frequently had daughters, nieces, nephews or siblings in tow. Both of my parents had also been out to see what the fuss was about. My nephew Jay even became a summer camp leader after being a camper for some years. His charismatic personality made for an energetic all-inclusive team of campers.

I stopped in to one of his classes one Friday afternoon just as they brought in a big tray of baked crickets for their snacking pleasure. I had the Barred Owl on my fist. She’s always a welcomed guest. I watched the kids contemplating their snack and sampling with caution. They had a small bowl of melted chocolate for the squeamish. As I was about to walk away, Jay offered me to join them in a sample. I politely declined. Jay managed to get the whole class to convince me to try it. “they taste like sunflower seeds”. After some teasing, not to be outdone, I grabbed a fistful and ate them like popcorn. I was picking grasshopper legs from my teeth the rest of the day. Thanks Jay.

Fast forward to summer 2012ish. I was out on my Friday afternoon enjoying my happy place that was bustling with campers getting ready to wrap up their week. I was getting ready to take the red tail for a walk when one young camper asked if she could walk with me. She got permission and off we went. She was the chattiest young teen I spent any time with in a long while. I heard every detail of her most wonderful week at camp. We were ¾ of the way around the bog when she told me she caught the biggest fish on Warner record that week. Oh no, “my nephew Jay caught the biggest fish on record here at Warner” I told her. “Jay is your nephew – I’m here because of him” and we turned our heads and met eyes. Our walk back to the center was much quieter with both of us in our own thoughts. Upon parting she assured me she was coming back as a camp leader.

My nephew Jaymes Hayden Schoenberg left this earth on July 11, 2009. He was on a hiking trip in the Alaskan tundra. He had a backpack raft that tipped over while crossing a frigid Glacial river. He was 22 years old. His dear mother Katherine started the Jaymes H. Schoenberg scholarship program at Warner in Jay’s memory.

This chilling story was shared by:

Kelli Fitzmorris

WNC Volunteer

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Disclaimer: The content of this website strictly reflects the views and opinions of a group of Warner Nature Center volunteers wishing to continue the legacy of Warner Nature Center and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the staff of Warner Nature Center nor the staff of the Science Museum of Minnesota.