Fifth-grader Jack Hartman discovered his love for birds and the National Aviary  when he visited early last year with his family. On that trip, he learned that the aviary does a lot more than provide a place to look at birds. He learned that the aviary rescues endangered or injured birds, providing a safe environment so they can live longer.
“I learned about how endangered birds are and how where they live is becoming destroyed,” says Jack, who lives on Florida Avenue.
Jack decided after his visit that he wanted to help, so when his birthday came around last December, he told everyone all he wanted for a gift was a donation to the aviary. “It’s not what you expect your 11-year-old to want to do,” Jack’s mom, Jamie Matias, says.
Jack decorated a coffee container and put it out at Washington School for people to drop their change into. His initial goal was $250, which would allow him to receive a penguin plaque at the aviary. But after tallying up all his birthday and Christmas money along the money he raised at school, his tally was $750. “I was really surprised. It was a lot of money,” he says. Jack’s proud grandfather, Bob Grove, of Carmichaels, in Greene County decided to help Jack make the donation total $1,000.
The aviary is inspired by Jack’s enthusiasm to help save birds and educate others about them. “Jack’s donation to the National Aviary not only speaks volumes about his character and passion for birds, but it is also integral to our mission,” says Jeremy Davit, director of philanthropy for the National Aviary. “When young men and women make a commitment like Jack has, it not only inspires respect for nature, but it also inspires staff, volunteers and others to join in and help save species from extinction. And for that, we are thankful.”
Jack now has a penguin plaque at the aviary and was invited to attend a banding of peregrine falcons, where he got to see their nest and the babies. Jack’s work for the aviary is not likely stopping at his first donation. Says his mom, “He was really dedicated to it, but he is still continuing to think of different ideas to raise money.”