Rare Snowy Owl mount donated to WDC Schools
A rare Snowy Owl mount was recently donated to Wadena-Deer Creek High School by alumni, Dave and Mary Ann (Richter) Schmidt. They wanted to donate this rare and beautiful bird as an educational learning tool for WDC students.
This particular Snowy Owl was found out of its normal Canadian habitat on West Battle Lake, near Clitherall, Minn., by David Richter and his 11-year-old daughter Victoria, who were vacationing from Florida with family members, Dave and Mary Ann Schmidt in 2011.
One morning while hiking through the woods to take photographs, David and Victoria saw a white clump of what they thought was snow. "As we got closer, we recognized that this wasn't snow, but a Snowy Owl,” Victoria said.
The owl was no longer alive, so they brought the beautiful bird back to find out more about the species and why it had migrated to Minnesota. It was a learning experience for Victoria and the family decided it was an opportunity for kids of all ages to learn about the Snowy Owl.
Having grown up in Wadena himself, David Richter knew about the 2010 tornado that had left the high school building and contents destroyed. The school contents included many taxidermy animals donated for student learning.
Richter and his daughter talked with family members Dave and Mary Ann (Richter) Schmidt about having the owl mounted as a gift to Wadena-Deer Creek Public Schools. Both Dave and Mary Ann graduated from Wadena High School, so this was their way of giving back to their school.
They decided to bring the owl to Dewey’s Taxidermy in Wadena. Owner Dewey Schmitz indicated the owl was in perfect condition and had likely died of starvation because it was out of its normal habitat. The Schmidts paid for the mounting and donated it to the Wadena Deer Creek Middle/High School for students to learn from for years to come.
When Wadena-Deer Creek High School science teacher, Kelly Shrode, learned of the Snowy Owl donation, she was thrilled to have such a rare species added to the school’s collection.
“As a science teacher for 10 years, I can honestly say that one of the best things about my job is the ability to teach students with a hands-on approach,” Shrode said. “It has been a long-standing tradition to have great community support for this district and it seems that tradition is still strong. I am excited to be receiving a Snowy Owl to add to our collection and know that it will become an integral part of our environmental science curriculum.”
Victoria Richter is particularly excited about being able to share the Snowy Owl with kids from the Wadena area.
“We have talked about that Snowy Owl many times since we returned to Florida,” said David Richter. “Although Victoria never had the opportunity to see the showcases of taxidermy animals previously at the high school; she is hopeful others will have the opportunity to learn about the Snowy Owl from their family donation to the school. Victoria is excited to see if others will also donate unique taxidermy projects to the school so she will be able to see and learn from them on her visits to Minnesota in the future.”