News & Events


Congratulations to Jacob who was recently awarded Eagle, the highest rank achievable in scouting. Jacob is the son of Terry and Connie Handel of Sycamore. He and his brothers worked on these gazebos for our ambassador birds of prey. Our birds are very lucky to have such nice housing - outdoors with the wild all around them. 

"...being an Eagle Scout… that is something most can recognize, and little can achieve. It is something worth striving for," said Jacob. And Oaken Acres is very happy he chose to work with us to achieve his longtime goal.


The Boy Scouts were kind enough to provide us with a history of Jacob and his scouting a career:
Jacob Handel, a member of Boy Scout Troop 2810, chartered at Salem Lutheran Church in Sycamore, was recently awarded Eagle, the highest rank achievable in scouting. Jacob is the son of Terry and Connie Handel of Sycamore.

Jacob began his scouting journey in 2003 in first grade with Cub Scout Pack 102, chartered by Southeast Elementary School in Sycamore. He earned all five Cub Scout ranks and the Arrow of Light (the highest award given in Cub Scouts). He continued his trail to Eagle with Troop 2810 serving as patrol leader, scribe, quartermaster, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, Leave No Trace Trainer, and crew leader.

He joined Troop 2810 in 2010 as a founding member of the new troop. He enjoyed attending many campouts, numerous activities, and Canyon Camp Summer Camp. He also attended National Youth Leadership Training as both a participant and staff member, and experienced High Adventure trips such as the National Jamboree in 2013, the Philmont Scout Ranch in 2014 and Boundary Waters this past summer. Jacob’s favorite trips included the Boundary Waters and Philmont adventures, for he enjoys “secluded back country and the teambuilding and leadership experience” and the summer trips to Madeline Island and Canyon Camp because of being able to spend time with friends.

Jacob was inducted into the Order of the Arrow in 2013. He has earned 48 merit badges so far in his scouting career with Nature and Canoeing being his favorite badges. His interest in nature led him to pick an Eagle Project concentrated on supporting wildlife rehabilitation at Oaken Acres, a wildlife rehab facility in rural Sycamore. He removed an old wildlife structure to make room for a new gazebo educational center. He also constructed two gazebos that will be used for rehabilitation shelters for birds of prey. Jacob speaks of his accomplishment, “I look around and I see all of these Eagle Scouts, all of them accomplished all of them successful. And after having my dad and two older brothers reach Eagle, it seemed so attainable. Even though I knew that it would be hard, it was something that I had wanted for as long as I can remember.  It's an award that holds weight no matter where you go. Captain of the football team doesn't mean much to a scientist. Being first chair trumpet doesn’t matter so much to an author. But being an Eagle Scout… that is something most can recognize, and little can achieve. It is something worth striving for.”

To achieve the Eagle rank, each Scout must earn a minimum of 21 merit badges, remain active in their troop, live by the Principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, complete a service project, and participate in an Eagle Board of Review with all requirements being completed before their 18th birthday. About 4 percent of all Boy Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle.

Jacob is a junior at Sycamore High School and a member of the school band and jazz band ensemble, member of the National Honor Society, SpARK (Spontaneous Acts of Random Kindness club), is the treasurer for the school’s Newspaper, and TEC (Technical Entertainment Crew). He is considering going to school to get a degree in Environmental Science. He remains active in Troop 2810 with the goal to help other Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle, and has earned a bronze palm and is working toward his gold palm. Jacob and his family plan to hold his formal Eagle Ceremony in the near future.

For information about Troop 2810, call Scoutmaster Terry Handel at 815-895-6953 or email at trailtoeagle@comcast.net.



Is it time to think about spring wild babies? It's also time to celebrate the 25th birthday of our MOST FAMOUS, MOST HANDSOME educational ammbassador ...........VINNIE THE VULTURE! Watch for Vinne's story coming up and SAVE THE DATE on your calendar. 


Oaken Acres Wildlife Center Will Need Volunteers 

Working with orphaned wildlife takes a special person. And Oaken Acres Wildlife Center in rural Sycamore is looking for some of those special people for the 2016 “baby season.”
Baby season at Oaken Acres means the time between May 1 and August 1 when it receives about 85% of all the animals it cares for each year. This busy time is when most of the wild babies are born and sometimes orphaned due to mothers being hit by cars or trapped in homes and not reunited with their babies, nests disturbed by storms, pets and children, and numerous other tragedies that befall them.
Most volunteers will have hands-on opportunities that include feeding, cleaning, and food preparation. Non-animal opportunities, such as reception and phone answering, will also be available to handle hundreds of phone calls that Oaken Acres receives each season about orphans and nuisance wild animals.
By law, anyone working with wildlife must be at least 18 years of age. This is not for the faint of heart. Some animals come in badly injured and some animals must be euthanized due to the extent of their injuries or the type of disease they have contracted. But nearly two-thirds of the wild animals received at Oaken Acres will be successfully released, most before September.
If you are interested in being considered for a volunteer position, email info@oakenacres.org  with your name, phone number, email address and your area of interest – mammal babies, songbirds, office, construction and landscaping, or fundraising.  If you want to know more about Oaken Acres, please continue to explore our website – www.oakenacres.org – and get acquainted.


Looking forward to SPRING 2016

Spring Babies at Oaken Acres Wildlife Center

It’s that time again when baby wild animals and people come into contact with one another. From owlets and squirrels in early spring, followed by raccoons, opossums, waterfowl and songbirds, the transition from winter to summer brings the busiest season for wildlife and for Oaken Acres Wildlife Center in rural Sycamore, Illinois.
First, unless an animal is obviously injured or orphaned, leave it alone until you get advice from a wildlife professional. There is a page on the Oaken Acres website that details what to do when you find a wild animal that may be in need of help.
Second, be certain it needs to rescued BEFORE picking it up. While most wild mothers do accept their babies back after being touched by people, it’s always better for them to stay in the wild if at all possible. An Oaken Acres staff member can advise you on the proper method of capture and transportation IF the animal needs to be rescued.
Third, until our baby season is in full swing, an appointment is necessary for bringing us an animal. After May 1, Oaken Acres will accept injured or orphaned wildlife from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Fourth, please keep your cat(s) indoors especially during the spring when wild babies are most vulnerable. The most recent reputable study of cat predation on wildlife paints a bleak and cruel picture of the outcome for millions of wild animals – mostly babies – that are attacked by owned cats. The injuries are usually too severe for the wild babies to survive and they suffer terribly at the paws of roaming cats.
Fifth, if you have a problem with a nuisance wild animal – raccoon or squirrel nesting in your attic, foxes or coyotes being more visible during the warmer months, birds building nests in house vents or soffits – call Oaken Acres for a humane solution to these problems. Almost all nuisance wildlife agencies kill any animals they has been hired to remove. Methods that are legal for “dispatching” these animals include clubbing, drowning and suffocating. Most people, once they are made aware of this, will not resort to lethal methods. While humane methods may take a bit longer and require some accommodations, they’re usually almost no cost to the homeowner and they keep wild families together without the need for any of them to die.
Lastly, do not attempt to raise a wild orphan on your own. First, it’s illegal for anyone to possess a wild animal without the proper permits from state and/or federal agencies. Most importantly, wild animals are not like domestic pets. Each species needs specific care and most people are not equipped or able to provide the proper care to keep them alive, let alone raise them to be successfully released into the wild. This is not a good experience for your children since, if you try to do this, it will usually end with your children in tears when the tiny baby dies due to improper care. Oaken Acres has been raising orphaned wildlife for almost 30 years and releases most of its patients back to the wild where they belong.
To learn more about wildlife and Oaken Acres, please visit our website – www.oakenacres.org – and get acquainted. Make sure to click on the “I’ve found a baby animal” at the bottom of the page. If you need to bring us a wild animal, please call 815.895.9666.
Donating to Oaken Acres is easy. On our website, just click on the “DONATE” button or a check can be mailed to Oaken Acres at 12140 Aldrich Road, Sycamore, IL, 60178.



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