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Audubon names Exline scholarship recipient

Photo submitted to Times Observer Jamestown High School graduate Hannah Hornyak is the 2020 recipient of Audubon Community Nature Center’s Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship. She is shown here (at left) with Audubon Education Coordinator Sarah Hatfield, participating in the May 2 Birdathon that funded the scholarship.

Every spring since 2003, Audubon Community Nature Center staff have raised scholarship funds through their Birdathon on the first Saturday in May.

Participants look for as many species as possible over a 24-hour period, and supporters pledge an amount, either per species or in total. One result is $500 for the Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship.

This year’s participants, who wore masks when not able to maintain distance and birded in small groups, spotted 94 species. The 2020 Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Hannah Hornyak, who took part in the event.

The daughter of Tom and Charlene Hornyak, Hannah is a graduate of Jamestown (N.Y.) High School and plans to attend university in Montana to earn an environmental degree. In addition to ACNC, she has volunteered with the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. A nature lover, Hannah has a particular interest in reptiles and amphibians.

This scholarship is named in memory of one of its earliest recipients. Ryan Exline was an integral part of the Audubon family for many years, where he assisted with gardening, eagle care, live animal care, and educational programs. A resident of Russell, he was pursuing a master’s degree at Duke University when he died in a car accident. His love of nature and of nurturing future generations of “nature nerds” lives on through this scholarship.

Scholarship applicants must be area residents pursuing a degree in the natural sciences. Recipients must be passionate about the natural world.

Donations are still welcome to the Ryan Exline Memorial Fund. Any amount raised above the scholarship is designated toward making improvements to Audubon’s live animal habitats. This year Ebenezer the Wood Turtle’s habitat will be upgraded. Donations can be made at AudubonCNC.org/Donate.

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