Bridging the Gap

Posted on in On the Mountain by Diana Myers, Education Trainee 2019

Education Trainee Diana practices with the Great-horned Owl Education Bird
Diana practices with the great-horned owl education bird.

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy some really amazing experiences in my life: I’ve hugged a redwood tree, studied abroad in India and Kenya, and backpacked the Appalachians. However, if I could go back in time and tell my younger self, perhaps a 5th grade version of myself, all the things life had in store for us, I think she would be most excited about getting to work with raptors.

Even though I’ve always loved animals, my family never had pets (Dad was “allergic”). So having the opportunity to work on long-term, consistent trust accounts with Hawk Mountain’s amazing education birds was just a dream come true for me. I loved getting to know each bird’s personality and to understand animal behavior and psychology on a whole new level. When you are going through the motions of your feeding routine, and you have a million Raptor Care to-do lists in your head, it is easy to forget that you are interacting with a wild raptor and what that really means. But then there are beautiful moments when you are so tuned in to the bird on your glove that you realize all over again the deep respect we owe these amazing creatures, and all other wildlife. As an education trainee, I had the opportunity to present my feathered friends to school groups, retirees, horticulture clubs, and more, so that they could experience the same wonder and respect towards wildlife that I was privileged to feel. 

Education Trainees Diana and Alyssa host a Raptors Over the Ridge School Program in the Visitor Center
Education Trainees Diana and Alyssa host a Raptors Over the Ridge school program in the Visitor Center.

I have never had another job that has felt as necessary and satisfying as my role at Hawk Mountain: I got to make science fun and easy to understand at all ages. Hawk Mountain has amazing scientists and researchers working on critical research throughout the globe. But if people don’t have access to this information, or don’t understand it, then we can’t change or improve anything. My role as an education trainee gave me the opportunity to bridge the gap between these inspiring researchers and the public. I was trained to communicate Hawk Mountain’s important scientific research in ways that could be accessible to kindergartners through retirees, and as a result, I saw hundreds of people experience the awe of a wild raptor as well as the joy of the great outdoors.

In the same vein as that, I also got to build an entire curriculum about striated caracaras in an effort to advance conservation projects in the Falkland Islands. This project made me feel so fulfilled, as I tangibly helped shift people’s negative perceptions about raptors and inspired people to take pride in the unique wildlife around them.

I was so honored to be a part of this amazing Hawk Mountain team and have some of the most memorable experiences of my life.