2017 Year in Review: Lydia Price, Outreach Volunteer

It’s time to look back on 2017! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2017 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Having moved to our new “retirement” home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the past year, I finally was able to realize one of my retirement dream goals.   I began training as a volunteer Outreach Docent for the Wildlife Center. Becoming a member of the WCV team has been rewarding and exciting, while also leaving me surprised and astonished in some ways.  I am not sure I can find the words to explain because these are seemingly “little” experiences, but when put together, they leave me with a sense of wonder.  All I can do is try.

First, having participated in numerous tours as a visitor to WCV, I thought I knew what I might experience leading a tour.  However, it is different.  Not only did I have more information about each ambassador that I could share with others that I learned during training (and lots of reading), but I also found myself being asked questions I never anticipated I might be asked. We are taught that it is okay to say “I don’t know” or “I will ask and get back to you”. Yet I found myself being able to answer many of them, and even expand on my answers with examples. This may sound like a small thing but it astonished me.  I also found I really enjoy the questions and sharing stories to help “teach the world”. 

One day after a tour, a lady pulled me aside and told me how much she enjoyed the tour and how much she learned, then presented me with a hand-painted gemstone she had made which said: “thank you”.  It still makes me misty-eyed.   I do not know her name, but if you are the lady who gave it to me and are reading this, I want you to know I have it proudly displayed in my living room.

There are other small things which bring unexpected joy.  Like the time I stopped to play “throw the stones” game with Buttercup the Black Vulture.  (He likes to throw stones out of his enclosure in one corner toward his visitors … like playing ball). Or the times rehab extern Skylar went into Jaz’s enclosure to show school group tours how Jaz liked to be hand-fed mealworms and bend her head to be petted (Jaz the crow has a big-time crush on Skylar).  Or, while leading a school tour, the thrill of unexpectedly seeing Delphine the Virginia Opossum moved out to the main “ambassador row”.  The children were thrilled by her and so was I; she was wide awake in the late morning, and looked like she was “showing off” for us as she ate her food treats.  Of course, since I was a follower of WCV and remember when Delphine came in, and watching her care for and raise all her babies despite her injuries, I could share my delight in seeing her with the kids.  And, of course, we talked about the message of the apple core.

The most memorable experience for me occurred because an injured crow who had been treated and healed by WCV needed to be released back to the area in which she/he was found—which happened to be where I live.  I was given the honor of doing the release.  (You must understand I have come to LOVE crows, having read so much about how smart they are and sharing such stories with groups I lead.  “Gifts of the Crow” is one of my favorite books and Jaz has become one of my favorite ambassadors).  Releasing that crow gave me such joy!  I can now understand why releases are so addictive.

 

 

Perhaps the most astonishing thing to me is that the SNAKES, especially Clifford, have become some of my favorites of all!  I did not hate snakes prior to volunteering, but I did not really care to meet one either. Now I find myself loving to show the school groups the ambassador snakes in the library, and talk about how they are first cowards, then bluffers, and only lastly warriors.  And cornsnakes are so beautiful with their kernels of corn patterns and colors.  The next step in my outreach development will be learning to handle snakes!  I can hardly wait!  Who knew?

I love the atmosphere and the people at WCV and I am looking forward to the next experience in my great adventure!

--Lydia

Check out all of our year-in-review posts!