How Hawk Mountain Changed Me

Posted on in On the Mountain by Andrea Drumbore, 2020 EducationTrainee

Trainee Andrea at South Lookout
Andrea Drumbore looks out over the Kempton Valley from South Lookout.

The thing about change is that everyone is afraid of it. I think it’s fear of the unknown. People tend to like to know what to expect. I know that I definitely do! Being prepared is important. Though life rarely follows the plans we have made. Hawk Mountain has taught me many things, and one of them is to embrace change and to go with the flow. Of course, even I used to be afraid of change. I was comfortable where I was, yet I found myself being drawn in directions that challenged me to embrace change. The decision to apply for this traineeship was one of those challenges. Looking back, I think several small moments steered me toward beginning my traineeship at Hawk Mountain. Being around my grandfather’s racing pigeons from an early age, getting used to the sound and feeling of wings beating over my head, and holding the babies after they hatched was definitely the early spark for a lifelong fascination and love for birds. As I grew, I slowly learned more about the avian world and more about myself. I got glimpses of worlds that I would like to explore through meeting the right people and eventually taking a raptor field techniques course at Hawk Mountain. So, I applied to the education traineeship, and the events that have followed changed me.

Trainee Andrea with the Education Red-tail
Andrea poses for a picture with the education red-tailed hawk after retrieving her from her mew.

This single choice helped me build myself further. Building on yourself is one of the most important parts of change. This is reflected in a quote by George Bernard Shaw: “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” I have made progress with achieving the career path I want as well as great personal change. I have learned a lot while at Hawk Mountain, and my confidence has greatly improved. Before I was a trainee at Hawk Mountain, I was never a confident person. I was a follower and not a leader. Through this traineeship and having the unique opportunity to forge a bond with a raptor, I became much more confident in myself and my abilities as an educator. In fact, building a bond with a red-tailed hawk has been one of the most rewarding experiences of these past few months. The fact that she trusted me as a handler and allowed me to take her from her home always made me smile the largest smile. Every single time she willingly stepped up onto my gloved hand to be taken out for a program was a special moment. It felt as if we were the only two in that moment, even if there were other people watching from behind. With her on my arm, I could capture and hold an audience’s attention during programs while staying in tune with her behavioral cues and comfort level. This traineeship has pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me in ways that I never imagined.

Of course, one cannot forge ahead without looking behind them. My time on the mountain is, unfortunately, ending and I will have to leave this magical place of self-discovery for the future and the change it brings. However, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will always remain a place where I know that I can go home to. As I continue to cultivate my career in wildlife education, I will always keep central the quote of Rosalie Edge, the founder of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, “the time to protect a species is while it is still common.” With her words in mind, I will face the future with optimism and confidence in my abilities. Hopefully, when I return to Hawk Mountain as a trainee alumna, I hope to see some of my own legacy still in place.