My name is Mildred Hoskins, and at the mature age of 87, my birding dream has come true.
My husband Charles and I were married for 58 years when he died a couple of years ago. We met while we were both students at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. After graduation, he took a teaching job at the University, and I became a secretarial manager, we married, had a son Christopher.
Before Christopher could walk we three became birdwatching enthusiast but our focus was drawn to the Whooping Crane who gathered every year at the nearby Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Charles’s father said there was a time when there were hundreds of thousands of Whooping Cranes, but their numbers dwindled because of hunting for their meat to have during the cold winter months in Wisconsin when they left.
We learned they migrated to Florida during the winter and we wanted to one day follow their flight and visit their winter home.
For years we saved money for our trip and when Christopher received a scholarship to the University our plans to visit their winter migration home was initiated. It was the Christmas break of 1967 when we borrowed a friend 59 Chevrolet and drove to the Chassawitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Hernando County Fl.
When we arrived, we discovered the Whooping Cranes were placed on the endangered species list and were shocked to see so few birds in their winter home. It was on that day, Charles and I decided to spend the rest of our lives ensuring their migratory routes were secure from hunting to improve the health of the Whooping Crane.
When Charles and I retired, we became snow birders like so many others migrating from the cold weather spots in the US and Canada to warmer locations in the south.
Over the years we followed many mated pairs of Whooping Cranes who do so for life, and we gave names to many we followed. As volunteers at the Wild Life Refuge’s, we promoted the conservation and environmental awareness to the public about the Whooping Crane other migratory birds, their routes and maintaining their habitats.
Today I’m pleased to announce my granddaughter Christina Hoskins will become the third generation of Hoskins to watch over the Whooping Cranes as an environmentalist with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in Wisconsin and Florida.
Theresa, you are my dream come true as you have shown your commitment to becoming and environmentalist and conservationist which is a reflection of your parents and grandparents. Go forward into the future to serve with the passionate love and dedication.