New ‘spokesduck,’ website feather aviary nest Etcetera 3-3-13


Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary’s new website — — went live Thursday. “It is wonderful with lots of great info and photos (mine!),” said Joanna Lanning, primary aviary caretaker.

For those new to town, the aviary is situated in the southwest corner of the historic 58-acre park at the corner of Whitman and Division streets.

Home to approximately 200 exotic birds, it’s a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife game farm and holds a Federal Fish and Wildlife permit.

The aviary crew named a 4-year-old paradise shelduck from Mt. Vernon, Mo., Sheila after she arrived on Valentine’s Day.

“(She’s) the same species as our beloved Shelley, a 16-year-old paradise that had resided at the aviary for most of her life.

River otters that made their way into the upper net pond killed Shelley on July 4 last year.

“The staff was heartbroken as Shelley, the official aviary spokesduck was very much loved by us and frequent visitors who knew her by name, which she would answer to in her very distinctive voice.”

“Shelley followed the crew around like a puppy and loved to be held and cuddled. We’re not expecting Sheila to be just like Shelley, but it has made us all happy to watch Sheila exhibit many of the same mannerisms as Shelley, which is indicative of the breed,” Joanna said.

Paradise shelducks are goose-like dabbling ducks native to New Zealand.

Because of city budget constraints, the aviary friends organization is working to offset expenses through a variety of projects.

There is “quite a group of professionals on the board with lots of great fundraising plans,” Joanna said.

Monetary gifts come in all sizes, including this one from Clara P., who dropped a note in the donation box recently that read, “I love the birds Please keep them here”

Three nickels and a quarter were taped to the note’s reverse side, Joanna said.

For more details, contact the aviary at 509-527-4403 or .

Not only is she avid about the aviary, but Walla Wallan Joanna Lanning is also a Special Olympics supporter.

Embracing the “Freezin’ for a Reason” and “Don’t be left out in the cold!” mottos, Joanna participated in the seventh Special Olympics Washington Polar Plunge Kennewick Jan. 19.

This is the third time she’s raised funds for athletes through this statewide event sponsored by law enforcement agencies to benefit Special Olympics Washington.

She and Waitsburg High School junior E.J. Meserve and Preston Hall Middle School (Waitsburg) seventh-grader Chris Philbrook comprised The Plunging Poultry team. Making like cannonballs, they leapt off the Columbia Park boat dock into the 38-degree Columbia River, joining more than 600 others.

Joanna raised $1,921 for Special Olympics athletes, making her the third highest single fundraiser this year, she said.

“Many participants, like E.J. and Chris, raise or pay the minimum $25 for students or $50 for adults so they can jump and earn a special long-sleeved T-shirt commemorating the event,” she said.

Kennewick Police Department Sgt. Randy Maynard told her that the Kennewick Plunge grossed $213,000 this year compared to $158,000 in 2012 and $127,000 in 2011.

“Plunger registrations and corporate sponsors netted $85,000, while the remaining funds are in-kind contributions and capital to hold this fun-filled event. This year there were 642 registered plungers.”

“It gets more fun every year. The Kennewick Police Department does a fantastic job of organizing the event and making it fun for the participants,” she said.

“Words cannot express my appreciation for all the people from the local communities who pledged.”

Proceeds from the Kennewick Plunge directly support athletes in Walla Walla and Columbia counties, Joanna said, adding that it takes $650 a year to fund each Special Olympics athlete.

She plans to keep expanding and get a full team of 10 or more Poultry Plungers for 2013 and become one of the top fundraising teams.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Grant Farmer Post 992 and Ladies Auxiliary hosted a luncheon Feb. 23 for students who participated in the annual patriotism essay contest, according to member Linda McBride.

The event drew 50 family, post and auxiliary members. Winners received certificates of merit and monetary prizes.

The theme of the Voice of Democracy essay competition open to students in grades 9-12 was “Why I’m Optimistic about our Nation’s Future.”

Shelby Gordon received a certificate and awards locally. She also placed second at the district level.

More than 45,000 high school students across the country enter to win a share of the $2.2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through VFW’s Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition.

The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000- $16,000 and the first-place winner from each state VFW Department wins an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

The Patriot’s Pen theme, open to students from sixth- through eighth grades, addressed “What Patriotism Means to Me.” According to the VFW website, roughly 126,000 students enter nationwide.

Entrants were so evenly matched that Hannah Gordon and Jennifer Rau both garnered first-place awards at the local level, Linda said. Hannah read her essay. As Jennifer was unable to attend, VFW member Jerry McBride read her essay.

One first-place winner from each state competes to win one of 46 national awards totaling $46,000. The national first-place winner receives $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March.

Students draft a 300-400 word essay, expressing their views based on the theme chosen annually by the VFW commander-in-chief.

The Youth Essay winners, writing about “My American Hero,” were Touchet third-graders in Teri Lesmeister’s class: Maeve Thompson, first place; Rosetta Renwick, second; and Braden McGreevy, third.

“We are very proud of all our entrants, winners and runnersup,” Linda said.

“I urge all students to enter these contests. The rewards far exceed the efforts of writing the essays,” she said.

For more information go to or

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or afternoons at 526-8313.


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