Friday, July 8, 2011

Livin' the Wildlife

While we live here my employment opportunities are limited. Although I have data to crunch and publish, a big garden to take care of, boxes to unpack, and lots of other house-y things to do, lately I find myself 'goin' tharn' when I raise my eyes above the computer monitor or view finder. I've failed to conjure my inner Martha Stewart for more than an afternoon at a time and even my inner Alice Waters is unusually quiet.

Then it came to me:  I'm most happy when actively engaged with caring people doing something that is intellectually challenging, fun, and makes a difference in the world. For almost 20 years, working as research scientist in an academic environment fulfilled most of that for me. Now I'm an over-educated female interloper in a tight-knit, conservative, agriculture and oil & gas dominated small what's a girl to do? 

Yep, volunteer to help someone else. In this case, it's something else; here's what's keeping me connected, challenged, and busy these days:
The new 'work' site;

part of the office, July 2011

Some of the residents at my new gig;
Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets

Checkered Whiptail Lizard
 Why did the Scaled Quail cross the road?
Western Meadowlark

Maybe s/he didn't like the view on the other side.

You might have guessed already;
the new 'boss'
There's an entire system of these across the US; I feel lucky to have been accepted to be a volunteer at one nearby. Already I've helped net and band birds, recorded for the bi-weekly bird count, and met some incredibly thoughtful, bright and enthusiastic folks. Talk about a learning curve... until a few days ago I didn't know a stilt from a plover or a Western Kingbird from a Brown-headed Cowbird. Five more days to the next banding; six before the next count: I better hit the books (Peterson's Western Birds for now; maybe there's a Sibley in my future).

That's right: caring people, an intellectual challenge, fun, and it does make a difference. I am happier, now if only those boxes would unpack themselves...

(No, I didn't get that academic administrative position that had me in a transdisciplinary cloud. Thanks for asking, though.)

1 comment: