Step by Step

In my seven weeks as an education outreach extern at the Wildlife Center, I have learned how extraordinary this organization is. The staff here are unbelievably hard workers -- their dedication to wildlife inspires me everyday to do the best job I can do with my time here at the Wildlife Center.

That being said, I have a pretty broad job description. As an education outreach extern, I spent most of my first few weeks learning about the Wildlife Center. I shadowed numerous tours and programs, soaking up any and all information on our education ambassadors.

After working with our education ambassadors for some time, I began writing Caring for Critters updates for you all! Caring for Critters is a program were the public can “adopt” one of our non-releasable education ambassadors by paying a small fee. This money goes toward food, shelter, and medical care for that animal. Once you adopt an animal, you receive their biography and information about that particular species. On top of that, you receive periodic e-mail updates about your adopted ambassador.

After all this training, I was able to start leading tours by myself. This turned out to be a lot harder than the outreach coordinators, Chapin and Raina, made it look! I wanted to communicate all the wonderful aspects of the Wildlife Center, and I wanted to do it well.

After I stumbled through my first tour, I received valuable feedback from Chapin and Raina. With their guidance, my public speaking skills are improving and I am becoming more comfortable giving presentations!

A few weeks back, I represented the Wildlife Center at the Grace Farm Tour along with Raina and Shelly (outreach docent). We set up underneath a tent with our ambassadors - Athena the Barred Owl, Pignoli the Eastern Screech-owl, Pogo the opossum, and Malcolm the cornsnake -  and stayed the entire day. The informal setting allowed people to talk to us more directly and to get up close with our ambassadors. This event was a fun and relaxed way for me to get some public speaking experience as well as share what I had learned at the Center!

This past weekend, the Wildlife Center held a few open houses with which I was able to assist. I led the tour groups through our facilities and was overjoyed with the responses I got from the people! They were in awe of the amount of food our patients consume -- our rehab staff made about 180 meals that day alone! Of course, everyone was also captivated by Buttercup, our charismatic Black Vulture! These tours solidified my confidence in front of crowds; all my nerves from my first presentation had completely disappeared.

Honestly, I never thought I would be excited for anything requiring public speaking. While I have always loved creating and organizing presentations, I never had the skills or confidence to speak effectively in front of people. Now, I actually look forward to conducting tours!

Having the opportunity to spread the Wildlife Center’s message has been a privilege thus far. I can’t wait to meet more supporters of the Wildlife Center and continue to learn about wildlife in the remaining weeks of my externship. Everyday is a new adventure here – I hope to see some of you soon!

-- Jackie
WCV Class of 2014

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