News Release

Two Local Grade School Students Win Woodmen Tower Falcon Contest

May 10, 2013

Omaha, Neb. – Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society's "What Does Wildlife Conservation Mean to You?" essay contest winners, Ainsley Rutledge, 3rd grader at Lewis Central Titan Hill and Gabrielle Swing, 5th grader at Avery Elementary, have each won a VIP invitation to attend the banding of the newest Tower-top residents on the 28th floor of the Woodmen Tower. In addition, Raptor Recovery Nebraska will visit Ainsley and Gabrielle's classrooms with their educational falcon.

"Our goal for the essay contest was to help students gain a new appreciation for local wildlife and habitats," said Niki Steier, Sr. Communication Specialist at Woodmen of the World. "Both essays were insightful and well written, we couldn't choose just one."

In Ainsley's essay, she wrote, "I think that it is very important and just the right thing to do to help protect animals. A lot of people may not understand wildlife conservation, but I hope that that changes soon." It's a change Raptor Recover Nebraska has been working on. Through state-wide educational outreach programs, lectures and tours they work to increase public awareness of raptors' ecological importance and the challenges the face. With the help of their educational falcons, they teach respect for raptors, appreciation of their unique beauty and role in our ecosystem, and habitat conservation. 

"We must protect our animals and plants if we want our children to grow up in a world that includes them. We lose different species to climate change, habitat loss, pesticides, pollution, and hunting," wrote Gabrielle. Read Ainsley and Gabrielle's essays on Woodmen of the World's FalconWatch blog (

In the last 25 years, the Peregrine Falcons, once considered endangered, have successfully adapted to their urban habitat on the 28th floor of Woodmen Tower, and have multiplied well beyond the expectations of local raptor enthusiasts. Woodmen falcon offspring have been spotted as far away as South America and the falcons, who once visited for only a few months at a time, now live atop the Woodmen Tower year-round, although it is difficult to say if that behavior is based on preference or the necessity to guard their hotly-contested hunting ground. Peregrine Falcons will fight to the death to protect their territory.
As part of the 25th anniversary of the Woodmen Tower Falcon program celebration, Woodmen of the World will be holding the annual "Name the Falcon" contest again this year through Facebook ( Special educational activities have also been planned to commemorate the anniversary. Woodmen of the World has partnered with Fontenelle Forest and Raptor Recovery Nebraska to create educational materials for third through fifth graders, the materials are available online for anyone to use. The public can find out more about the 25th anniversary celebration and the new falcon chicks at the web site at They can also follow the Woodmen Falcons through their Twitter account @WoodmenFalcons.

25th-Anniversary Activities Include:

  • Annual banding of the new falcons on the 28th floor of the Woodmen Tower. Usually in mid-May. Participants will include the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Raptor Recovery Center, as well as guests from area nature organizations. (Media welcome.)
  • Annual "Name the Falcon" contest. Open to the public. Visit following the banding, for details, pictures of the chicks, and a list of winning names from past contests.  
  • Fund raiser through online sale of anniversary t-shirts, with a portion of proceeds to benefit Raptor Recovery. Visit the Woodmen Store at
  • For more information, visit

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