Dunrovin Ranch osprey named in honor of refugee student

Posted at 9:29 AM, Jun 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-18 11:29:37-04

LOLO – A group of fourth grade students jumped from their desks to celebrate when St. Joseph School science teacher Katie Wardisiani announced a surprise field trip to Dunrovin Ranch at the end of the school year.

Her students had spent the last month of the school year learning about osprey, did projects, and watched a live stream from the ospreys’ nest at Dunrovin Ranch in Lolo

"I just fed off of their enthusiasm about it and the more trivia games and activities we did about osprey the more they wanted to do with it and so it went much longer than I had initially expected but it was it was really the best experience and a great way to end our school year together," said Wardisiani.

When the chicks hatched in early June, the members of Days at Dunrovin — the ranch’s online community — were tasked with choosing the names. Earlier in the year, the students had submitted about 20 suggestions to the members.

Three of their suggestions had special significance to the class. The names were Wakati, Congo, and Jambo all in honor of their classmate, Wakati, who is a refugee. Wakati and his family came to America from the Congo two years ago.

The Days at Dunrovin members were moved by his story and decided to choose the names suggested by the students to honor him, his country and his language. 

Wakati said the hearing the names had been chosen brought tears to his eyes, "I’ve never seen amazing teachers and amazing friends (like I do) here. I just feel like to be in the class I wish I could stay in there forever," said Wakati.

The decision meant a lot to Dunrovin Ranch owner SuzAnne Miller as well, "birds of prey like osprey occur worldwide in every continent except Antarctica, so I consider them ambassador birds. I love the fact that we had these young children giving us the gift of these names with such free hearts. 

"And our older Days at Dunrovin members across the United States embracing that. So I think that these birds are bringing us together in ways that we could not have foreseen," Miller added.

The University of Montana will head back to Dunrovin Ranch in July to band the chicks so they can be tracked all across the country.

Additional information about the UM osprey project can be found here, including the following:

The Osprey Project is a long-term study of osprey ecology and heavy metal contamination in Montana’s upper Clark Fork River and its tributaries.

As part of our work, we run two livestreaming nest cams in Missoula (Hellgate Canyon) and Lolo (Dunrovin Ranch.)

Both the cams and this site are educational tools that bring the wonders of nature and science closer to home. Enjoy and share what you’ve learned!

Check out the Dunrovin Ranch Osprey Camera below to check up on the birds.