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Extension Snapshots

Master Naturalists volunteer at Fulton-Mason Eagle Day

group of Master Naturalists standing in front of display

Fulton-Mason Eagle Day is a popular annual community event organized by the Emiquon Partnership attracting well over 1,000 visitors this year. University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist volunteers assist in a variety of ways each year to help educate youth and adult visitors and inspire them to connect with nature. At the 2019 event, seven Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit Master Naturalists played important roles in the success of this event which has venues on both sides of the river.

Kim Dunnigan, Master Naturalist, has been serving on the Eagle Days planning committee for a few years. During the 2019 event, Kim also presented the Illinois Department of Natural Resources mammal trunk to guests attending the event at the Dickson Mounds Museum location.

Master Naturalists, Roberta Clifton of Mason County, and Jane Ward of Peoria County, assisted the Emiquon Corps of Discovery with a display at Dickson Mounds Museum while Jane Frazier of  Mason County, Jennifer Bass of Peoria County, Dennis Johnson of Woodford County, and Marcy Doyle of Mason County, were on hand at the Havana City Center to greet visitors, share Extension information and play Bird BINGO with children.

“In the past, I have also volunteered at the Emiquon Lakeside Observatory,” mentioned Dennis. “People enjoy using the spotting scopes and binoculars to see the eagles. This year I spotted a lot of eagles on my drive to Havana.”

“While the eagles are always the main attraction there are a lot of other fun, educational activities,” mentioned Christine Belless, Extension agriculture and natural resources program coordinator. “April Burgett is the committee chair. She and the planning committee lined up Wildlife Prairie Park’s Birds of Prey raptor exhibit, World Bird Sanctuary’s live raptor show, Illinois Natural History Survey Traveling Science Center mobile trailer, and 4-H bird feeder building activities. The live ducks and kids activities at the museum were a big hit too.”

According to Burgett, in addition to Extension there were four more organizations that provided educational activities and displays. There were an additional 13 sponsors that helped make Eagle Days happen.

“The Fulton Mason Eagle Day 2019 was a big hit at all locations across both counties,” stated Burgett, business manager at the Illinois River Biological Station. “Many visitors returned from prior years and plan Eagle Day as part of their annual activities, but we also saw many new faces this year. Many visitors to the Havana City Center had never been to the facility and were amazed at what a wonderful facility it is and excited that something more was being offered in Havana for Eagle Day 2019. We are looking forward to our next Eagles Day on February 1, 2020.”

Each year the Fulton-Mason Eagle Day event is an opportunity for Master Naturalist volunteers to help others connect with nature and become engaged environmental stewards.


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Christine Belless earned her B.A. Ed/History & Psychology from Western Illinois University. Christine began her Extension career as a Fulton County SNAP-Ed instructor in 1994. From 2005-2012, she was the Mason County 4-H Program Coordinator. In 2012, she transitioned to her current position as Ag & Natural Resource Program Coordinator for Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties.

Christine coordinates logistics and volunteers for commercial agriculture and natural resource programs. She works closely with 90 Extension Master Naturalists as they deliver educational programs, complete continuing education, and work with our partners on projects such as restoration of natural areas and environmental stewardship events. As a trained facilitator in Annie’s Project, Christine coordinates the training offered to women in ag and works with state commercial ag educators for programs held locally.


Extension Snapshots are monthly impact reports that share the stories of our programs in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. To have them delivered to you directly sign up using our E-blast registration.