Rachana Rajendra was an Okemos resident who loved birds and nature. When a tragic automobile accident took her life in 1997, her parents established an endowment to honor her memory. The funds were used to create and maintain the Rachana Rajendra Neotropical Migrant Bird Sanctuary, located in the Baker Woodlot at Michigan State University. The Sanctuary is an urban refuge for people and birds alike. This small, but largely undisturbed deciduous forest provides our community with a special place to observe birds, conduct research, and explore nature along winding paths in a quiet wood.
Each year, two students interested in avian research are awarded a $2,000 fellowship through the Rajendra endowment to work at the Burke Lake Banding Station. Fellows conduct weekly surveys at the Rajendra Sanctuary during the spring season to better understand how birds use the area, and the most experienced fellow trains undergraduates in survey techniques. The Rajendra Fellows develop a strong appreciation for connection: the Rachana Rajendra Bird Sanctuary, Michigan State University and the Burke Lake Banding Station are not only connected by staff, students, and community members, but especially by the birds of mid-Michigan. The Sanctuary is a living memorial for a woman who had a passion for birds, just like our students do.