Raptor building constructed by JHS students transported to Jester Park

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JOHNSTON, Ia. (May 31, 2022) — The Jester Park Nature Center is now home to a Raptor Building built by Johnston High School students in Rhys South’s construction technology class.

Students spent the past three months building the 10 x 20-foot building in the high school wood shop. They started by making models of the IMG 6714building, a fraction of the size of the real one. They finished just before the school year ended last week.

On Tuesday, it was time for the building to be taken to its new home. A crew from Polk County Conservation took the structure from the high school to a concrete pad at Jester Park, where it will house one hawk and one owl that has been injured and can’t be released into the wild. That may include a barred owl and a red-tailed hawk.

The building is made of a wood frame with plywood siding and a steel roof. It features fence-covered windows in the front for public viewing of the birds and a fenced roof opening for ventilation. It was the students’ largest project and it taught them about using power tools, measuring, building models, reading plans and framing.

IMG 6713South, a JHS industrial technology and Project Lead the Way teacher, said his construction technology students generally construct a building each year ranging from garden sheds to an outdoor classroom, to vendor buildings at the Christkindlmarket event in downtown Des Moines.

This year with the Raptor Building, Johnston students benefitted from the real-life experience of building something that will be on public display and will be used for years to come. The partnership also benefits Polk County Conservation and Jester Park, as recipients of the new structure.

Polk County Conservation naturalists have already hosted about 40 programs about birds serving 800 students this year. Programs like these can be found on the events calendar at LeadingYouOutdoors.org. Information on native species, viewing platforms and bird blinds can be found on Polk County Conservation’s web page on birding.