Volunteers Migrate Too!

Volunteer Mary Yandell speaking with young Craniacs at the Marsh Madness Sandhill Crane Festival in Linton, Indiana.


It’s not just cranes that migrate. International Crane Foundation volunteers all around the world help support our mission of protecting cranes and the places they dance. Take the example of Mary Yandell, a volunteer from Kentucky. Mary has been involved in crane festivals throughout the United States and is the editor of the Eastern Crane Bulletin, a quarterly newsletter focusing on Sandhill and Whooping Crane conservation.

Mary Yandell went through training in the autumn of 2017 to become one of our first Whooping Crane Ambassadors. Members from this group traveled from Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama to the International Crane Foundation’s headquarters in Baraboo, Wisc. for three days of training. Mary’s trip to Baraboo was the first of many trips she has made to volunteer. In 2018, Mary volunteered at the Festival of the Cranes in Alabama, the Whooping Crane Festival in Texas, and Marsh Madness in Indiana! Mary is an excellent interpreter and is a great help giving information to festival goers. We asked Mary why she likes volunteering:

Mary sharing a close-up view of cranes through scopes at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama.

“I first became aware of the plight of Whooping Cranes while in elementary school (1967), in a newspaper article accompanied by a photo of a gangly colt,” explained Mary. “It was a shocking revelation to me that this species could easily disappear from existence before I ever had a chance to see the huge white bird.”

“So after a series of events, over many years,” she continued, – ” including a crazy guy dancing with a Whooping Crane in Wisconsin, witnessing an early morning flyover in 2001 of Operation Migration ultralights as they led the first cohort of juveniles southward from Muscatatuck NWR, Indiana, and  through work brought about by concerns for Sandhill Cranes in Kentucky – the path led me to volunteer with the International Crane Foundation.”

“I value being part of the foundation’s education outreach,” concluded Mary. “It is my small “thanks” to all those whose hard work and concern for cranes now give me the wonderful opportunity to see Whooping Cranes in the wild.”

More than half of our Whooping Crane outreach volunteers over the 2018/19 winter season were new! This year we are continuing to grow our volunteer program. If you have Whooping Cranes near you, you might have an opportunity to help the International Crane Foundation spread the word about cranes in your local community. If you are interested in joining our volunteer team you may fill out the application here. A huge thanks to all of our volunteers who dedicate countless hours to crane conservation!

Click here to learn more about our work in North America. Story submitted by:

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”27012″ img_size=”150×200″][vc_column_text]Andy Bingle, Interpretive Program Manager[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”27526″ img_size=”150×200″][vc_column_text]Anna Turkett, Whooping Crane Outreach Program Coordinator – Texas[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”27111″ img_size=”150×200″][vc_column_text]Lizzie Condon, Whooping Crane Outreach Coordinator[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]