An ancient sport, Falconry is the keeping and training of birds of prey.
Rodney Stotts is a Black falconer from Southeast Washington DC. He is the program director at Raptor and River/Environmental Education in connection with the Earth Conservation Corps along the Anacostia River.
Realizing that his lifestyle was not safe or sustainable, Stotts was drawn to falconry and river conservation as an alternative to jail, or perhaps more likely, death. “I found that my love for the environment and raptors was greater than the love for drug dealing.” Stotts explained.
According to Stotts, falconry is important in two ways; it saves the lives of raptors and helps to keep the population healthy, and it crosses all color, socioeconomic, and ethnic barriers. Through his work, he makes the powerful connection between endangered species of all kinds that include the Bald Eagle in DC to local youth who must navigate survival in a stressed community.
The Earth Conservation Corps currently employs its raptors to engage local youth in environmental education activities. Says Rodney, “Falconry can help build character, compassion, and caring. It’s importance is immeasurable. It changes lives.”
Check out this short video that shares more about his inspiration and passion!