Ferris State University President David L. Eisler and his wife, Patsy, have made a gift allowing Ferris to further develop its Osprey Webcam service, which streams live video of the pair of osprey that nests on the university’s campus each summer.
Since its introduction by Ferris’ Department of Biological Sciences in 2008, the Osprey Webcam has become a popular learning tool both on and off campus, among teachers and members of the public, alike. Education programs around the world, from college biology to elementary science classrooms, access the Osprey Webcam to provide students a rare look at the migrant birds as they nest and hatch their young.
The Eislers’ donation allowed the development of a mobile application that will open up the webcam service to users of Apple mobile devices.
“We have been very pleased to see how many people use the webcam to study the osprey, and the Eislers’ contribution has allowed us to take an important step in extending our services to even more users,” said Paul Klatt, professor of Biological Sciences and developer of the Osprey Webcam project.
Prior to the Eislers’ gift, a choice of live video stream or still images was accessible to users of desktop and laptop personal computers, with only still images available to users of Apple mobile devices. Given the rapid rise of smart phone and tablet PC use, and particularly the popularity of tablets as teaching tools, the Eislers’ timely donation stands to make the Osprey Webcam and its insights into the natural world even more accessible to new generations of learners.
The Eislers celebrated the gift, a memorial to their mothers, in a small ceremony near the ospreys’ nest on the one-year anniversary of the passing of Mrs. Eisler’s mother, Irene Johnson. President Eisler’s mother, Sarah Eisler, passed away in 2010. President Eisler credited his wife as the driving force behind the gift, and the couple gave the following formal statement of dedication:
“In loving memory of our mothers, Irene Johnson and Sarah Eisler, who taught us to love and appreciate nature.”
Mrs. Eisler also spoke fondly of her memories of her mother and the love of nature her mother and President Eisler’s mother had shared with their entire family.
“One of the first memories that I have of home is of sitting at our dining room table and watching birds on the birdfeeder out the window. We grew up feeding birds, and later both of my daughters did science projects on bird feeding that went to state. Bird feeding was always a part of my life.”
She added, “When my mother was visiting me, she would fill my birdfeeders, and both Dave’s mother and my mother taught us to love nature and be out in it, so this was just a really neat way of honoring them.”
The Osprey Webcam Mobile App is now available on iTunes as a free download for iPhone and iPad.