BY MELANIE BUCK –
Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife supporter and fundraising volunteer Lyn Dilbeck, of Four Winds Trading Post, is extending an invitation to all to help Tommy Young celebrate the release of three hawks this Saturday, January 30th, at Lake Wilhelmina at 1:30 p.m.
Young has been rehabilitating wildlife for more than 34 years and is approaching a milestone that he is more than proud of. According to his documentation, Young has released thousands of animals over the years, including 36 bears, 10,000 hawks, 9,000 owls, 20,000 songbirds, 7,000 aquatic birds, 45 bald eagles, and 36 golden eagles. Although all animals have a place in his heart, birds are his favorite, especially birds of prey.
Dilbeck and supporters of the center are always trying to find ways to assist Young in his endeavors by spreading the word of his continuous efforts and providing fundraisers.
Lyn Dilbeck said, “There are so many birds and wildlife that have been rehabilitated and returned to our beautiful Ouachita Mountains. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful area. And without Tommy Young and the work he does for us, our resources would be 80,000 less,” said supporter and fundraising volunteer Lyn Dilbeck of Four Winds Trading Post.
Although there have been many skeptics of his numbers, Young stands by them and as his longtime mentor and former Arkansas Game and Fish Officer Don Brader said, “What does it matter? Once you get passed 100 releases, it’s only numbers. The work Tommy does for these animals far outweighs any number out there. There are very few of them like him, really. There’s even fewer now than there used to be because of federal regulations and such. He’s a renowned rehabilitator in the state and he does a lot of good work.”
Young’s story begins at a very young age; birth, really. His mother, Myrtle Young, cared for animals and would do her best to repair a songbird’s wing or nurse baby rabbits after their mother had perished. Animals have always been a party of his life. “We’ve looked back at baby pictures of me and we can’t find one picture that doesn’t have an animal in it,” laughed Young. Always being the wild one and always trying to help one animal or another, Young knew his calling wasn’t with people, but with the creatures God placed around him.
When I think of what it must of taken to care for those animals; the feeding, the watering, the medical care and cleaning the cages, the work would be endless. I wonder when I look deep into my own heart if I would have what it takes to accomplish such a task,” said Lyn Dilbeck. She added, “And what amazes me more is that he does it with no state or federal funding of any kind. I could of never afforded to such a huge task, but for Tommy he has always found a way. Working extra hours past the needs of his own family. Presenting programs and presentations, excepting donations to help pay for it all. Don’t you know that it has had to be a struggle!”
Lyn also said she would like to send out a huge “Thank You” to those of out there that do donate to the Center from time to time. “Without you, there would be many hungry mouths to feed. But we as a community need to figure out a way to support the Center on a regular basis.”
The Arkansas Plant & Native Wildlife Center has accounts at both the Union Bank of Mena & Bear State Bank. Lyn Dilbeck encourages those who would like to help to set up an automatic withdrawal at your bank to be sent to one of the Center’s accounts. “My New Years Challenge to you is to ask you to support one of our greatest natural resources. I think most folks can do $5.00 and if you can’t, perhaps think about volunteering to work at the Center. After seeing the work load that is there, you might be happy to donate such a small amount. The Challenge is on!” said Dilbeck.
“We would love for you to come out to this release, to actually see what its like to give this creature his freedom back. It’s an awesome sight.”