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470 Paseo de Corrales, Corrales, NM 87048
Grant Received County Amount
Outdoor Equity Fund 2023 Sandoval County $15,000
Total Grants Awarded $15,000

In the northwest corner of the Albuquerque metropolitan area is the headquarters of a small non-profit with a big impact; On A Wing And A Prayer (OAWAAP). For the last nine years, Mikal Deese has dedicated her time, funds, and energy to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wild birds. For central and northwest New Mexico (NM), OAWAAP has often served as the ONLY available place where conscientious bird lovers can reliably deliver orphaned, ill, or injured birds, with the expectation they will receive the very best care. From songbirds to raptors, OAWAAP has become a hospital for a wide variety of species. With round-the-clock attention, many are released, flying and healthy, back to the Rio Grande Valley and surrounding ecosystems. In 2023, 512 patients of 69 wild species were admitted into care. Along with this labor-intensive priority, Ms. Deese has also established an entertaining and sought after educational program geared towards students and their families. Ms. Deese has introduced her education birds, fully permitted by state and federal agencies, through school visits, community events, NM historic sites, soil and water conservation programs, etc.. Her team of dedicated volunteers — veterinarians, high school and college students and adult interns — have provided an avian haven, filling a gap for this type of environmental work in NM. OAWAAP’s mission emphasizes the interconnectedness of people to wildlife and to diverse, thriving natural environments. One of the key successes lies in this ability to meet students where they are, on campuses, in classrooms, outside in amphitheaters, national and state parks, recreation centers and even on basketball courts—to bring these birds and their stories closely and intimately, right there, in urban, rural, suburban and outdoor tribal settings —without glass or cage or confines. OAWAAP brings the birds to the people. Again and again, there are moments of transformation that inspire witnesses to take action in tangible ways that make a difference. As weather permits, students and public participants experience this education outdoors. By creating awareness about the threats faced by wild birds and the vital role they play in maintaining ecological balance, OAWAAP creates a collective sense of responsibility among students and community members. This organization’s impact extends beyond the confines of its rehabilitation center. By addressing the root causes of avian decline, OAWAAP fosters sustainable environments where birds can thrive. On public school campuses, at community events, in senior centers and at harvest festivals, children and their families meet raptors and their “interpretive agents,” trained teachers who ask students to think deeply about their relationships with these feathered representatives of the natural worlds right outside their home and school doors. In 2024, as OAWAAP celebrates its tenth anniversary year, it stands as a testament to what a community united by avian support can achieve. This non-profit has not only saved thousands of birds, but has sown the seeds of a more harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife. OAWAAP is a living example of the transformative power of care, focus, education, and compassion.