ETCETERA - Conservation group aims to aid Pioneer Park Aviary

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Jim Sonne, president of Pheasants Forever Chapter 258, emailed that this year's Feb. 26 banquet is the most successful one to date.

He credits members, new members, volunteers and donors for making it happen. The food by Graze Catering was outstanding, Jim said, and emcee Scott Rasley and banquet chairwoman Allison Brugeman did a great job. Donations far exceeded any previous banquets, which helped with its success.

"We came out with over $15,000 ahead," Jim said. This year Pheasants Forever plans to take on some large habitat projects with 100 percent of the funds raised from the banquet to go towards those, plus youth programs and scholarships.

Jim is pleased PF will also be able to donate to the Pioneer Park Aviary, which is at risk of being closed for lack of funds.

He said an entire pheasant enclosure can be adopted for $1,000, which includes a personalized plaque on the enclosure with the group's mission statement, an invitation to special events and to be listed on the Aviary's website as a donor. Pheasants Forever officers and board voted unanimously to proceed with the contribution to the Aviary, Jim said.

Pheasants Forever is also seeking private donations to be used to adopt a second pheasant enclosure at the Aviary. Contribute to the Aviary can be sent to Jim at 1109 Ruth St. Walla Walla, 99362, earmarked for the pheasant enclosure. "Hopefully we can raise enough funds to adopt two pheasant enclosures. ALL funds collected will be used by Parks and Recreations for the Aviary."

For more about Pheasants Forever-sponsored conservation and youth programs, call Jim at 509-525-3550.

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On that note, a benefit concert dubbed Bluegrass Is for the Birds! will support the Pioneer Park Aviary. Music will be played by the Blue Mountain Troublemakers, Rezonators and Ryegrass String Band beginning at 2 today in the Waitsburg High School auditorium. Admission is $10 per person. Tickets are sold at the door and at Mandrakes Antiques, 212 E. Main St., Walla Walla.

The 10-week Garrison Night School Extended Day Learning Program celebrated its final night with a 34-car pinewood derby sponsored by Exploring Post 311 and the night school.

The celebration was for first- to seventh-graders who participated in the learning program.

They raced cars they made in the weeks prior to the March 2 race with assistance from Walla Walla High School Latino Club volunteers, said Bill Erickson in a release. The car made by Sharpstein Elementary School fourth-grader Raul Ramos placed first, followed by Green Park second-grader Luis Sanchez, second; and Saily Diaz, third.

Reading, math and vocabulary support went to the children of parents who attended the night school. It is the third year the race was held at Garrison Night School and is a partnership between the Walla Walla School District, Walla Walla Community College, Wa-Hi Latino Club and Exploring Post 311.

Fifty-five Latino Club members provided more than 1,400 hours of service to the program during the four-nights-per-week, 10-week program.

"The help and support of our Latino Club volunteers has been a significant part of our program's success," Diana Erickson, coordinator of the Extended Day Education Program, said. "The pre-school and grade-school students in our programs are not only getting individual tutoring each night, they are also being mentored by outstanding role models who are members of the WA-HI Latino Club."

Volunteers from Wa-Hi Latino Club have supported Garrison Night School Program since 2008. Starting in fall of 2008, Exploring Post 311 received a $3,200 grant from Walla Walla United Way to implement The Estrellita (literacy) Program for pre-school children whose parents attend the Garrison Night School Program.

Through the grant, Latino Club members received training so they could help Spanish-speaking pre-schoolers learn their alphabet and letter sounds.

Last year the program was expanded so the Latino Club provides educational support to all students in the program. Latino Club volunteers provide one-on-one tutoring and presentations to the younger students and help and support the adult programs too.

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Several opportunities await Walla Walla High School junior Clement Alexander Cantil this summer. He plans to participate in the Stanford University Education Program for Gifted Youth and the National Student Leadership Conference for Engineering at the University of California at Berkley in San Francisco. His time there in June and July will also include taking an engineering course from American University to earn college credits in engineering and environmental sustainability.

The college-level lectures will be presented by university professors, practicing engineers and other members of the engineering community. Through the curriculum, Clement and other students are offered a foundation that will prepare them for success in college and in their careers. His parents are Clem Cantil, chief of the internal review office at the Walla Walla District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Subrina Cantil, who is homeschooling Clement's younger brother.

Clement was also homeschooled until he entered Walla Walla High School as a freshman. He is a fulltime Running Start student at Walla Walla Community College and anticipates graduating in 2012. Interested in becoming an engineering officer in the military, he's especially focused on mechanical engineering with an emphasis in robotics.

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Many women in the community have received scholarships from the Walla Walla Branch of American Association of University Women and have completed their higher education in several different disciplines. The scholarships are for women who have completed a minimum one year of college and who want to complete their undergraduate or post-graduate education. Applications are accepted from women who can provide transcripts from at least one year of college, followed by an interruption of at least one year in education. They must submit two letters of recommendation from sources familiar with their educational background and goals. And they must be residents of Walla Walla, Columbia or Umatilla counties. The scholarship committee is seeking women who demonstrate a desire to continue their education by completing or adding to their degree. While past academic performance will be considered, of equal importance is the person's clearly demonstrated community involvement and enthusiasm for future community commitment. The individual financial need of the applicants will be considered in making the awards. The scholarship funds will be directed to the college of the recipient's choice to be used as needed for educational expenses. Applications are due by April 22. For more details, online see www.aauw-wallawalla.org or contact Alicia Quackenbush, committee chairwoman, at 509-529-7807, or rquackenbush@charter.net .

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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