Sunday, July 31, 2011
Wow, Charlie, check that out!
“Wow, Charlie, check that out! That’s not something you can see every day.”
Definitely not something you see every day--a man walking around with a Eurasian Eagle Owl on his fist.
This is one version of the same sentence that often comes out of people’s mouths as I’m walking by them with a bird on my glove. I smile every time I hear that because I know that it’s true. Even though I get to see this kind of thing every day, most people don’t. It’s important to me that my newfound job is one that gives me and other people immense happiness, along with the ability to have not-so-common experiences.
I say newfound because only recently have I started earning money for spending all my time at the World Bird Sanctuary. One year ago I spent a good twenty five to thirty hours a week at the sanctuary for free because it gave me so much joy. I had the raptor fever.
For nine months I volunteered but in January of 2011 I had to go away to college in Arizona. Throughout the whole semester I worried about my return home. I needed to get a full time job upon my return and I had no idea how I was going to juggle forty hours of work plus time at the sanctuary. Then, some crazy twist of fate occurred at the sanctuary and soon I had an email waiting for me asking if I wanted a full time seasonal job at WBS. Obviously, I took it.
Now I fully appreciate all the work that the staff at WBS does. Responsibilities run high here and hard work is key. It’s not just flying birds and cleaning up and preparing food. It’s fixing broken equipment, medicating animals, speaking to visitors and answering questions. Now that I’ve spent a few days running the Nature Center by myself, I also fully understand just how important our volunteers and interns are. That’s something I never thought much about when I was a volunteer. Alas, they keep the sanctuary alive and the staff sane.
My biggest responsibility increase is speaking in shows (Raptor Awareness, Wings for Tots and Amazing Animal Encounters are the programs that I speak in). I’m eager to do it and am having a blast with it, but it’s not easy. Suddenly I have to know a lot more about these birds than I did a year ago. Suddenly I’m thrown in front of crowds that are hungry for the information that I can give them. Suddenly people are looking to me for knowledge. Suddenly I’m the expert.
After every show I get the pleasure of talking to people and listening to the stories they want to share with me about their experiences with raptors, or answering their questions and going into more depth than I could during the show. I’m forced to be on my toes at all times and up to date on my information. I’m glad for the extra push that keeps my mind active.
Unfortunately, I only get a few months to do all of this. I said before that my position is seasonal. August will be my last month here at WBS and then I’m off-- back to Arizona to study Ecology, Cultural and Regional Studies and Adventure Education. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of awesome not-so-common experiences while in Arizona but I will undoubtedly miss the sanctuary and all of its staff, volunteers, interns and birds. Until then though, I’m going to suck in all of the awesomeness and try to put up with waking up early every morning (something I was never really good at).