Schuylkill Cen­ter un­veils new bird blind dur­ing Mem­ber Ap­pre­ci­a­tion Day.

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - Mike Weil­bacher Colum­nist

Last Satur­day, the Schuylkill Cen­ter un­veiled a new name for it’s 43-yearold bird blind in a spe­cial cer­e­mony at­tended by 60 mem­bers and friends of our or­ga­ni­za­tion. And to share the new name, I’d love to share a story.

Cheryl Beth Sil­ver­man was a charis­matic 24-yearold back in 1987. A lover of an­i­mals, she was of­ten try­ing to re­ha­bil­i­tate in­jured an­i­mals from her neigh­bor­hood on her own — an­i­mals seemed to fol­low here every­where. Her love of an­i­mals led her to be­come a veg­e­tar­ian as a young teenager. Trag­i­cally, she was struck by a drunk driver that year and passed away way too early. Look­ing to keep her mem­ory alive, her lovely par­ents, Art and Carol Sil­ver­man, now liv­ing in Warmin­ster, came across a news ar­ti­cle about the then-freshly opened Wildlife Clinic at the Schuylkill Cen­ter, co­in­ci­den­tally founded in the same year Cheryl Beth passed away. They have been sup­port­ing the clinic ever since.

Their first do­na­tion came in 1988, 30 years ago this year. Re­cently, the Sil­ver­mans hon­ored the Schuylkill Cen­ter by of­fer­ing a sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tion to the clinic to con­tinue keep­ing Cheryl Beth’s mem­ory alive. Ten per­cent of this do­na­tion will be drawn down an­nu­ally for the medicine, food, sup­plies and staffing the clinic needs, al­low­ing the gift to as­sist the clinic for at least the next decade. (In last week’s col­umn, we in­tro­duced you to Re­becca Miche­lin, one of our new­est staff mem­bers and the new di­rec­tor of the clinic.)

Look­ing to honor the Sil­ver­mans for their gen­eros­ity, the Schuylkill Cen­ter de­cided to re­name its bird blind, one of the most ac­ces­si­ble fea­tures on our prop­erty, in honor of Cheryl Beth. It’s in­cred­i­bly ap­pro­pri­ate, as this is one of the few places at the Cen­ter where you are vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed to see an­i­mals; on a walk out there Mon­day, car­di­nals, mourn­ing doves, blue jays, a wood­pecker and a spar­row, not to men­tion chip­munks, were en­joy­ing the seedy feast.

Wel­come to the Cheryl Beth Sil­ver­man Me­mo­rial Bird Blind, lo­cated at the end of the Wi­dener Trail, which starts along­side the Visi­tor Cen­ter. Art and Carol, now re­tirees and grand­par­ents, at­tended a spe­cial cer­e­mony Satur­day and pulled the cloth off the new sign to re­veal its name to the ap­pre­cia­tive crowd. Also in at­ten­dance was a good friend of Cheryl Beth’s from back in the day, a neigh­bor who had known her since the third grade. Now an adult and par­ent, she and her daugh­ter re­vealed the sign that shares Cheryl Beth’s story in the bird blind. Ev­ery­one can read about Cheryl Beth when they visit the bird blind.

The blind in­cludes small win­dows that look out onto a col­lec­tion of plat­form and hang­ing bird feed­ers that at­tract a wide va­ri­ety of birds. Need­ing to get the feed­ers above deer, who love to devour bird seed, Steve Goin, the cen­ter’s di­rec­tor of land and fa­cil­i­ties, cleverly in­stalled two metal “trees,” each with four metal branches, and from each branch hangs a bird feeder. The trees get the feed­ers above our deer friends. (He’s been urged by sev­eral peo­ple to trade­mark this hand­some new de­sign.)

The Wi­dener Trail is an early fea­ture of the Schuylkill Cen­ter. Built in 1975 with fund­ing from the Wi­dener Foun­da­tion, hence the name, the trail was the re­gion’s first paved na­ture trail, al­low­ing ac­cess to na­ture for ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing peo­ple con­fined to wheel­chairs and those for whom walk­ing might be dif­fi­cult. A pond was built along the trail back then, al­low­ing wheel­chair-bound chil­dren a chance to search for the crea­tures that in­habit ponds. Ap­par­ently our staff had to travel to New Eng­land to find, in the 1970s, a na­ture cen­ter with a sim­i­lar paved trail.

As the di­rec­tor of the Schuylkill Cen­ter, I, of course, would love to pub­licly thank the Sil­ver­mans for their loyal sup­port and as­ton­ish­ing gen­eros­ity over 30 years. In ad­di­tion, the cen­ter’s thanks go to our land and fa­cil­i­ties team, in­clud­ing Steve Goin, Sam Whit­taker and Shawn Ri­ley, for their in­cred­i­ble work re­pair­ing and re­new­ing the 43-year-old bird blind, which had been com­pro­mised by decades of car­pen­ter bees drilling tun­nels, wood­peck­ers bang­ing holes to get the car­pen­ter bees and the twin neme­ses of wa­ter and time.

Satur­day’s event was part of a larger Mem­ber Ap­pre­ci­a­tion Day, where we thanked the as­sem­bled mem­bers and friends for years — even decades — of sup­port. Be­cause we were founded in 1965, there is an as­ton­ish­ing group of neigh­bors and friends who have main­tained their mem­ber­ship for decades.

We’ve been con­nect­ing peo­ple and na­ture for more than 50 years now, and we can only do this be­cause of peo­ple like Art and Carol Sil­ver­man. Our deep­est thanks and sym­pa­thies for their loss go to them, al­ways.

Come visit the Cheryl Beth Sil­ver­man Me­mo­rial Bird Blind. Love to have you see it.

Mike Weil­bacher di­rects the Schuylkill Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Ed­u­ca­tion in Up­per Roxborough, tweets @SCEEMike and can be reached at mike@ schuylkill­cen­

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