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Young Man Fundraises for Bald Eagles at Wildlife State Park

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on May 31, 2019

Guest Article by
Kate Spratt, Park Services Specialist

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is fortunate to have many forms of support from the surrounding community, including donations of time from volunteers and monetary donations to our citizen support organization. Donations come from friends and family or visitors who enjoyed their time at the park and are used in various ways, from purchasing meal worms for wildlife diets to enhancing habitats with native plants.

Young Man Fundraises for Bald Eagles at Wildlife State Park

In early April, a young man with a wide, kind smile dressed in an American flag hat and shirt came to visit the State Park. He walked into the Visitor Center and with great pride presented Sue Buchheister, President of the Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, with a bag full of coins labeled
“Eagle Fund”.

Meet Blake Josic. At seven and one-half years old, Blake is committed to making a difference. He and his family travel to Florida annually and their trip always includes a stop at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Blake said that he remembers coming here “forever” and he always enjoys seeing all of the animals. Several years ago, Blake lost a family member whom he was very close to – his Grandpa. Blake’s Grandpa worked on planes in the Air Force and shared stories about his time in the service; the Air Force emblem, complete with its bald eagle, was well known by Blake.

When the Josic family visited the State Park in 2018, Blake was drawn straight to the bald eagle exhibit. “The eagles remind me of my grandpa,”
says Blake. It was then that the youngster with a wide, kind smile made the decision to make a difference.

“I wanted to help them. I wanted to raise money so they have food, shelter, and a big flag.” Young Blake returned home and set out on a mission to raise money for the bald eagles at a State Park hundreds of miles from his home.

He asked friends, family, and anyone that would listen to donate money to help “his eagles.” Blake researched eagles for school projects, read every eagle book he could find, and learned all that he could about “the greatest bird and symbol of our USA.”

He saved all year, depositing each coin into a special acrylic donation box adorned with eagle stickers, American flags, and labeled “Blake’s Eagles.” When it was time for their annual trip, Blake had reached his goal – he had saved $100.00 for the eagles.

The Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park and the managers, park rangers, staff, and volunteers of Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park thank Blake for his dedication, determination, and compassion for our bald eagles.

His donation will help replace the American flag in the bald eagle exhibit and provide additional food for our wildlife. When asked what he would tell other kids to encourage them to raise money for something they are
passionate about, Blake says “make sure that you really want to do this and to make sure that you absolutely get enough money. Everyone should be a good friend to the animals.”

Interested in learning about eagles? Join us on Thursday, June 20th for a program about bald eagles. Volunteer Sue Bathauer will share information on eagles and how you can help them. The program will be held in the Wildlife Encounter Pavilion at 10:30AM. The program is free to attend, however regular admission is required to get into the park. At the end of the program, there will be a drawing for ten attendees to go on a “Behind the Scenes” tour.

For more information on the program, call the Park office at 352-628-5343.

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