Written by Carolyn Greco, City of Dublin Volunteer
How do you know if a baby rabbit or a bird has been orphaned?
Pat Epolito and Linda Link know. They sit behind the nature table most Thursday mornings at the Dublin Recreation Center offering craft activities and information to the children and their caregivers who stop by.
Today the women offer plush animals, books, wild life pamphlets, yarn, models of bird eggs and a rabbit craft activity. Pat cuts brown felt ears while Linda attaches a cotton ball tail to a rabbit picture. Linda asks a mother if she knows what to do if she suspects a rabbit has been orphaned.
“You put string or yarn across the nest like tic-tac-toe,” said Linda. “If the string is messed up, the mother is there. She may have just been away getting food. You can also put a plastic laundry basket over the nest to protect the babies and remove it in the evening for when the mother returns.”
Both women started volunteering about two years ago out of a need to keep busy. Linda initially offered her administrative and organizational skills to Barbara Ray, Nature Education Coordinator for the City of Dublin. Barbara suggested the nature table be “about everything indigenous to Ohio,” said Linda.
The nature table changes weekly. It is not unusual to see a red or gray fox pelt, a taxidermy coyote or other representation of the latest critter to make its neighborly appearance in Dublin.
“Spring is prime time for foxes to have cubs. There was a mother fox with four babies on Avery Park Drive. A lot of people call Barbara. She prepares information sheets and we make up craft ideas,” explained Linda.
“I never knew as much as I do about bugs, foxes, birds and such as I do now,” said Pat. “Barbara worked at the Columbus Zoo. She explained to us about birds and structural light. Did you know that a cardinal’s feathers aren’t red? They’re brown. Because of the feathers’ structure we only see red!”
Linda points to a spot on a paper rabbit for a little girl to place the rabbit’s “tail.”
“I think it’s cotton!” exclaimed the child.
“That’s why they call it a ‘cotton tail,” explained her mom.
Several wet-haired children and preschoolers recently released to their parents curiously stop by the table to put tails and ears on paper animals. Pat reads a picture book to a little girl. Linda demonstrates the orphan string test once again.
The Volunteer Spotlight series shines a light on the City of Dublin’s valued volunteers. To recommend a deserving volunteer, or to inquire about volunteer opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org