It’s time to look back on 2018! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2018 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.
After almost two years of being an outreach docent at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, I have found that one of the very best things is what I am given. Precious small moments of knowing you touched someone. I volunteered and trained in order to help the Center, but also because I wanted to work with some of the critters and ambassadors. It is so cool to handle some of the critters, and my favorite is Oscar. I think I have fallen in love!
What I did not expect is how much I have come to love leading the group tours of children. I thought I would love helping the Wildlife Center “to teach the world” with the adults the most. Yet, I have found the kids are so fresh and so direct and honest in their feedback. I think they give back to me more than I give them. I love it when I ask at the end of each tour what was their favorite thing. Many come in expecting the grand eagle Buddy to be their favorite, but the most common feedback I receive is that they liked Buttercup the Black Vulture the best. They did not know how cool vultures are. When Buttercup plays with them and shows off, they often want to go back to his enclosure before they leave and see if he will do some more peek-a-boo games, or spread his wings. Many people don’t know how important vultures are to the health of our environment. The kids also seem to love learning that vultures pee on their legs to clean themselves from the dead stuff they wade in, and how perfectly adapted they are with their uric acid designed to kill bacteria.
One time, there was a small boy in my group who had studied everything about Peregrine Falcons and he could not wait to meet Maggie. I asked HIM to tell the group about Peregrine Falcons. The joy on his face as he told the group the Peregrine was the fastest animal on earth and the speed of their dive made me smile and laugh. These are the small, but unexpected, “give backs” that I have come to love.
One of my most special memories from the past year is from a group of school kids who toured this fall in rain and awful weather. One little girl had come up to me during the library talk and said she wanted to be in my group when we went outside to meet the ambassador “spokesbirds”. As we walked, I noticed she was picking up big wet leaves; I thought she was picking up leaves for a school project. When we got back to the lobby and I was talking to her teacher, the little girl came up to me, pulled on my sleeve, and presented me with a leaf bouquet. She said she had picked them all up for me! I was moved to tears and I kept that special bouquet of brown leaves on display in my home as long as I could. It is the small, but special, moments that stand out for me. I get back much more than I give.