The International Crane Foundation is partnering with local businesses to highlight its conservation efforts around the world.
The organization’s 19th annual Cranes of the World Festival on Saturday will feature interactive programming led by the Baraboo Children’s Museum to teach kids about the birds and the environments in which they live. They’ll also have origami activities and organize a theatrical performance to educate kids about cultural folklore that surrounds the majestic birds.
“We live in such a cool area that has a wide variety of educational activities,” said Baraboo Children’s Museum founder Jed Crouse. “We want to be able to connect our audience with the International Crane Foundation and say here’s a great place that we should take our kids regularly.”
Crouse said the collaboration with the conservation group came about because his wife, Traci, is a teacher in Baraboo and completes a unit on cranes with her second-graders each year. Both organizations plan to open pop-up shops in downtown Baraboo in the fall.
“One of the main things that we focus on with our programs internationally is working with local communities in order to further conservation projects,” said Andy Bingle, the foundation’s interpretive programs manager. “Here we’re engaging with our local community.”
Foundation staff will teach visitors about programs the organization has launched to save and protect cranes and their ecosystems around the world. Guided tours of group’s headquarters will take place throughout the celebration.
“Cranes of the World” tours will depart from the Cudahy Visitor Center at 10 a.m. and noon, and a “Cranes and Culture” tour will take place at 3 p.m. The tours will provide information on each crane species, the organization’s efforts to protect the birds and their habitats and how cranes have influenced different cultures.
“The International Crane Foundation is an organization that not only engages our local community here in Baraboo and Sauk County, but also that we engage with communities all around the world,” Bingle said.
Naturalist, humorist and educator David Stokes also will return for the event. He’ll take the stage at the Wattled Crane Amphitheater at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 2 p.m. Stokes is a regional naturalist who uses live animals in his presentations. Visitors can expect to learn about wetlands and their inhabitants, hear songs, stories and see a variety of live animals.
“He is a one-of-a-kind gentleman,” Bingle said. “He has this amazing shaved, bald head, and he’ll put frogs on there and snakes.”
The foundation’s headquarters north of Baraboo is the only place in the world where all 15 crane species can be viewed at a single location. In nature the large, migratory birds inhabit five continents and fly across deserts, mountains, frozen tundra and hundreds of international borders each year. Bingle said the group’s staff is excited to educate visitors this weekend about the birds and its mission to protect them.
“There’s such a good energy here,” he said. “People are excited to be out in nature, and they’re with family and friends.”