Meet Blandford’s First Animal Ambassador

What if more student writing assignments could be used to help our community?  The opportunities are out there, it just takes connecting the real-world need to the students. Blandford Nature Center has a wealth of opportunity, opportunities for students to use their writing skills as a form of service to their community and support a cause they believe in.

This past winter Blandford received a stack of “Thank you” letters from an area school – we sure do love receiving them.Tucked in the pile was this sweet letter. If you read on, you’ll see that Lincoln wondered, “I wish I could know what animal was rescued first.”  This presented a great opportunity to ask Mary Jane Dockeray, Blandford’s Founder, and hear the story.

first animal

West Side Christian School sixth grader jumped at the opportunity to put her weekly writing assignment to good use.  She joined a group of other students that came out to  Blandford Nature Center to help tell more of the story.   This is the fourth story in a series that they helped write.

Mary Jane Interview

Blandford’s First Animal, Winks

Written by Lauren

Let me tell you a story most people don’t know. It all starts out in 1968 when Blandford Nature Center had no animals. According to Mary Jane Dockeray, Blandford Nature Center’s Founder, most nature centers (at the time) had no animals, and Blandford had no plans to.

rail road tracks.png

One day three little boys were playing out by some railroad tracks a mile from the nature center. The boys found a beaten up baby screech owl. The boys were upset and brought the owl to Blandford. The boys asked Mary Jane if she could fix the owl. Of course she could not turn them away! The owl was a mess.  The nature center needed somewhere to keep the owl, so they got a small cage for it. The staff worked to care for its injuries, discovering that one eye was badly damaged.  The owl was blind in one eye, but it could fly very well. After hard thinking the Blandford staff decided to name the owl Winks.


Blandford hoped that Winks would live, and it did. Each day the staff would open Wink’s cage, and Winks would fly out. Ironically Winks would fly to a sign that said, “Don’t handle the animals unless a staff member is with you.” Winks would often be seen on that sign.  The staff never knew where they would find Winks. One day Winks was hiding in a Christmas tree! Another day Winks was hiding in a coffee cup!

It must have been meant to be that an owl became the original logo of the nature center. An  artist had designed Blandford’s logo with a screech owl.  Mary Jane wanted the owl as the symbol because of the phrase, “Wise Old Owl.” It was after the logo had been made that Winks came to find a home at the nature center. The owl logo design may have changed over the years, and Winks has come and gone, but the owl symbol lives on. Blandford has an important job to do, to educate our community to be wise about how we care for the place where owls and other animals need to live.

origional logo

In conclusion, I wanted to share that I really enjoyed that I could learn about something that I never knew about Blandford.   This experience motivated me to improve as a writer, real people hopefully will read this.  Mary Jane Dockeray has some great stories to share and I am glad that I could help.

lauren interview1

Mary Jane Dockeray pictured with Lauren



One thought on “Meet Blandford’s First Animal Ambassador

  1. Pingback: The Wild Classroom | Blandford Nature Center

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