Saturday, July 31, 2010

Super Short week!

And so the summer is coming to an end, three weeks left to go until I go back to the Unit. This week was so short, I spend most of the time relaxing at home. I only ended up working Friday and today (Saturday) after having 4 days off. Friday was a simple day really only consisting of a Zoo2U and a small adventure.

So Friday morning I had to meet Kyle at our Zoo2U in Delaware, which meant I had to pack up all of the animals. We had a small issue that was easily fixed; neither me nor Kyle were signed off on any amphibians for our program. In the end we just took two reptiles, the male Boa Constrictor and the Box Turtle, along with the Chinchilla and Broad Winged Hawk. Even though I left a little later than I wanted too, I was able to get there on time. We were presenting to a first start summer program of prek to 4th graders. It was awesome to see them so enthusiastic about the animals and learning about them, but I could tell towards the end their attention span was shortening. When I got back to the zoo and got everyone unpacked I hung around the Visitors center.

Then Andre came in and had me go roving around the zoo with him. He took the Spectacled Owl and I took the Broad Winged Hawk. Silly Andre brought a short thin glove with him, so we had to very craftily switch his glove behind the Visitor Center. This meant I held the Owl's jesses and leash while Andre hurried to clip the leash to the new glove and put the glove on. That went very smoothly which surprised me. Then we got over by the Bobcat exhibit and we heard someone or thing calling out "Hello? Hello?". Well come to find out the Macaws had gotten themselves into the bushes. Andre didn't really think before he acted and before I knew it he had the owl hanging again and was giving me his glove. Now mind you I already had the Broad Winged Hawk on my left hand.
So I had to hurry and figure out a way to make a left handed glove fit on my right hand and then swing the Owl back on the glove. It was kind of cool holding both birds at the same time while Andre ran in to get the Macaws, but at the same time I didn't like the situation I was put into. After all was said and done we took the birds back to the Aviary and I went back to the Visitor Center to kill some time. My last task to pass time consisted of Kyle and I going into the Aviary to catch Crickets being that we were running low again. It was pretty fun going in there to catch them with a net. Never did I think I would be catching Crickets during my job for the animals!

Today was another easy day at the Zoo. The only things I needed to get done today was do round one handling in the Aviary and Ed building, do enrichment for the turtles and mammals, do the 11 O'clock Ed talk, and go roving. I love doing handling, especially with the birds. I was able to catch the Red Tailed Hawk on the first go without getting mauled by her talons. Once again I had to get the Turkey Vulture off the ground, which is getting easier and easier. Doing handling today also meant I got to play with Mr. Wilson, our Opossum. He has gotten so big since the day Joy brought him in! But he's such a cute little bugger.

My Ed talk went very smooth, I actually had people show up which was awesome. I have come to the conclusion that I need to talk louder and slower when I do my presentations. I'm getting a lot more comfortable with talking in front of groups, but it's probably because I'm becoming more comfortable with the information. My parents also got a nice treat today, I was able to bring them back into the Aviary to show them the birds. This was nice for my Dad who likes to watch the Turkey Vultures fly around our town. I was able to bring Turkey bird out to him so he could see him up close in person. It's things like this that make me kind of work in the education department, but I don't know. Hopefully soon I will get a better idea which direction I really want to take.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

slacking a bit

So I am a wee bit late with last weeks post, been really busy with my dad retirement and what not. Monday I came in and helped with Zoo camp even though I wasn't scheduled to come in. I gave the kids a presentation on our Ferret and helped them make their Wildlife Explorer backpacks. It was a bit complicated trying to explain to them the pack without having an extra to do along with them.

Wednesday was a short day, but it seemed so long because of the crazy heat. I did round one handling in the Visitors center, then took out the red wolves discovery cart and sat in the wolf den. Last task was to clean out the Fire Belly Toad tank, which was pretty nasty. I looked a lot happier when I was done, gave him a floating log to sit on.

Thursday Nadia and I were asked to do the Zoo2U in Delaware at a Methodist Church. We took along the Chinchilla, Corn Snake, Great Horned Owl, and the White's Tree Frog for our presentation. The drive took less time then we thought it would, but it was still a nice bonding time. Presentation went smoothly but they had way more people then they said they were. It was a bit unnerving.

Friday was my last day for the week, mostly consisting of a birthday party. But before hand I had to get some enrichment done for the Birds of Prey. I gave them a bunch of toys to play with and gave Turkey bird a phone book to tear up. At the party I gave my presentation on the Barred Owl, Ferret, and Corn Snake. The kids seemed to like it, but 5 year olds don't have very long attention spans. After the party I stayed a little later to help Andre with the Spectacled owl for his Ed talk.

This week I'm starting to learn more about how to talk to younger kids in order to keep their attention. There's still the whole not knowing the difference between asking a question and telling a story. But I'm getting where I can just deflect those kinds of questions. I only have 3 and a half weeks left until I come back up to Maine. I can't wait!!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Another shift down for me here at second nature entrada!,
this last shift i worked was my first as a level one instructor as compared to the intern level this means i had to do lots of paper work and do more one on one processing with the students. Over all it was a great week and a good experience.
I was back working with the girls again with is both as always a challenge as well as a rewarding experience. The last time I worked in this group I was the only male staff member along with all the female clients. this was the case again, and while that can be slightly frustrating, it can also give me an edge for certain aspects of my every day work. some times it is as simple as bring in a new outside prospective to a group that has fallen into a routine, some time it can be more involved then that, either way it is helpful for the company to have a male there, and i dont mind working with them it provides a good professional challenge, and it helps out the company, win win situitation for all involved.
as i mentioned in my last post I am doing a six credit internship this summer and that entails me working on a project through out the summer, this actualy works in my favor. let me explain how that works. Second nature hires wilderness professionals and provide them with everything they need to excel for the company and for them selves, they provide them with training and good pay as well as deep gear discounts. However what they ask for in return is a year long contract. meaning that they are only willing to hire people if they are willing to put in a year of their time. this is of course a challenge for people like me who want to come and work for the company but don't have that much time to give them. This is where the internship comes into play. Second Nature is willing to give out several college internships per season for wilderness professionals who want to work for the company but can not give the standard year to second nature. the summer " interns" earn the same pay and get the same training and work the same job as the other field staff, but in return they are asked to do a project for the company.
Hence why i chose to do the six credit internship with unity since i already had to do a project for the summer.
here is the basic principle and outline.
More on my progress and what i have done on my hard skills later
1. How to make a compass from scratch
2. How to use natural plant fibers to make cordage,
3. How to build shelters out of native materials
4 Water collection, conservation, and sourcing in the desert
5. Pack board/Pack Basket Building
6. How to make a bowl/dish from scratch
7. How to make a knife
8. Making moccasins/ or some other form of foot wear
9. signaling/ rescue communication
10. Navigation using non traditional sources
11. Other forms of fire production besides bow drill ( other firction methods, flint,etc)
Other areas for consideration
1.Getting back to nature, Wilderness trust walks and other nature activities
2. Non- traditional herbal medicine
3. Tracking

I had a larger list of skills at first but under the suggestion of my boss i have narrowed it down some and have started from the top. this ideally will take up x number of hours on my on shift and more on my off shift to come to about sixty hours of work and research by the end of my internship.

Cheers for now, more later


Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's just your imagination!

I didn't work that many days that the Zoo this week, but I worked longer hours. This week was my week to help with Zoo camp, which happened to be the 2nd and 3rd grader week. Oh about crazy! The theme for this group was habitats and the animals that live in them. I only did a few activities, mostly crafts like making paper plate owls and making their own field guide page. I went in on Tuesday which was a rainy day. At one point we tried to take the kids to the park, but half way there it started to sprinkle. So after standing under some trees we decided to walk to the wolf den and see if the rain would stop shortly. Nope, couldn't be that easy, instead it poured and poured. You try telling 14 eight year olds not to go out in the rain. Then Thursday we took the kids to the park being it was so sunny outside. We let them run around for about 45 minutes in hopes that they would wear out and be more behaved when we brought them back. We ended up learning that if you just give kids animal books and confetti they'll calm down.

After camp was done for the day I was able to get some handling in. I completed all of my handling sessions on the larger birds so now I can handle them when ever I want. I just have to give my short talk to my supervisors so I can take them out for programs.

Friday was the worst of the three days by far. Started off with me giving presentations on the Ferret and the Hedgehog, so Nadia and I could use them for the Wildlife encounter later on. Then it was Zoo camp time and I ran the first program, creating a field guide page. All the kids were surprisingly well behaved. Then Nadia and I had to prepare for the Wildlife encounter, which was given to the Accomack County Migrant Program or something to that extent. The fun part was getting the Red Tailed Hawk into a carrier, and it must be noted that she hates carriers. Nadia tried to put her in three times, getting her half way in each time before she would jump off the glove. We decided we would give it one more shot before we chose another bird. We let the hawk jump off the glove and hang by her jesses. Then I held the carrier at an angle and we slowly dropped the Hawk inside. She surprisingly didn't freak out when we got her in there.

We waited on the stage for a half an hour before Brandon came out saying they were going to be late. Program was supposed to start at 10:30, we didn't start until 11. Also the group was only suppose to bring 90 or so people, they ended up bringing a little more than 2oo people. And they had there own itinerary, which we told them no that they had to go by what we planned for them. So Brandon sent the first group to the stage, but they never showed up. The second group showed up on time, but half way thru more of their people showed up and we were already packed. THEN, the first group showed up before the third group showed up, so we had to tell them to come back for the forth program because there would be way too many people. Third group showed up and left on time, and the fourth group was MIA. We were just glad we had enough time to which out our bird and mammal so they didn't get too stressed out.

After a much needed Intern lunch break at a pizza place near by, Nadia and I finished the aviary and did handling. I had to pull the poor little Screech Owl out of his nest box, so he was a bit testy. It also didn't help they are working on rebuilding the Ed holding building right next to the aviary, so some of the birds were a little agitated by all of the noise. After the birds we went back to the Visitor Center were I got to feed the Hognose snake a Toad. It was so cool watching him shove that whole thing in his mouth.

I learned, well rather reinforced something very important this week. Patients is a very good thing to have. Being calm and just waiting things out is a very good skill to have in any job. I'm also learning hold to respond to different age groups when giving a presentation. I love my job at the zoo and it's kind of sad that I only have 5 weeks left.

Hopefully I'll have more stories next week!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another week in the education department

This was a kind of slow week at the Zoo being the week after forth of July. Monday I started off animal care and handling in the Visitors Center. I haven't gotten it down pat as far as how much food some of the animals get, but I do know for the most part what is needed to be done on a daily basis. For example, I know most of the animals get fed Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and that the Box Turtle gets his food every odd day. Also that the Chinchillas only get their dust baths on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Those kinds of things I have done. It's also taken less time to get the whole Center done due to the fact we haven't had crickets for a week and a half. Though as I was doing my job, Mary was in there cleaning filters so I had someone to talk to the whole time. Mostly about how she's been applying for jobs on the AZA website, it was nice to get insight from someone who was already done with school and is in the searching stage. By time I was done it was already time for me to keep the building open, I went over my time a bit and never got to roving.

After roving Andre came by and dragged me off to go roving with him. We rounded up Hulgan, our Sun Conure, and chased him into the office in order to catch him and put his harness on. That was an adventure in itself! Finally we got him all settled and I grabbed the Corn Snake and out we went. The were a few groups of Mexicans walking around the Zoo, some speaking enough english, others not knowing a word. But the ones that knew not a word could very clearly get across the question "Is the Corn Snake poisonous" through hand gestures. After a nice walk around the Zoo we went and banged out the round two handling.

Thursday I was suppose to have the Visitors Center open from 9:30-11am, but I walked in to four large trash cans and a bowl of mice and rats. It was apparently snake feeding day so I got to help out with that. It was cool how the Boa took her rats so gently and with grace. In the end Crick the female Boa ate 5 adult rats, Elvis the male Boa ate 10 Mice, a record for him. The male Ball Python, Ricky, ate 8 mice and the female Python, Lucy, ate 11 mice. While Lara and I were feeding the snakes, Kyle was busy doing animal care. At one point he went outside to put some things in the compost bucket and then peeks back in the door asking if our Opossum got out. I look out there and sure enough there was an Opossum in the compost bucket. Joy came by and took him to a different location to release him. It was so cute. But on that note, the Opossum that we've had in holding has been cleared to be an education animal!!! We're waiting for the little bugger to get bigger and then he is eventually going to be moved into the Aviary, but for now he's in a cage above the Ferret.

Last task for Thursday was to do Education Building and Aviary handling. The aviary was the fun part of the whole task! I finally got to hold the larger birds, larger being the Red Tailed Hawk, Spectacled Owl, and Turkey Vulture. Turkey was no problem at all, his personality being that of a large lap dog. He's one of the better birds with the "Step Up" concept, and he doesn't have a death grip. The only reason he's a higher level bird is his aggressive playfulness, a.k.a. playing tug-o-war with anything. The other two birds were the difficult part. Specs you have to sneak up on because she likes to fly back and forth in a descending pattern. But once you grab a jess you can just wait for her to calm down and then swing her up. Red Tail, missing an eye and all, you have to come from the sides so she has an escape path. With her you just have to watch out for the talons/back flipping, grab a jess, hold on and eventually she will perch herself on your glove. It was so exciting to be able to do that.

Today was EXTREMELYYYY SLOWWWWW. It was pouring rain when I came into work this morning, so there was no ed talk. I mean really, who is going to sit outside in the pouring rain. Also which animal other than the turtles is going to want to be out in the rain. With that being I just went of to do aviary care and handling. I took me about an hour and a half or so to get the job done. I'm just glad today wasn't Bird of Prey diet day, just regular old mice/rats/chicks. Since it was raining I decided to be nice and give all of the birds one of their food items by hand, and by hand I mean tongs. I was amazing to see the Great Horned Owl scarf down a whole rat in one swallow, tail and all! Turkey, being the pig he is, took food with no problem.

I was a little reluctant to hand feed the Red Tailed Hawk, but I was curious on how she would take her food. So I slowly walked up to her with the tongs out reached, the whole time she looked like she wanted to jump and fly. But when I finally got close enough to her she reached out with her talons and ripped the rat from the tongs! Just the power for one swipe was amazing! The last bird I hand fed was the Peregrine Falcon, who is very shy and skittish. He didn't know what to think at first and jumped down to the ground to run around a bit. So I just put 3 of his items on his block. He started to come closer so I held the forth item out to him and he took it. As I walked out of his pen he did a little trot over to his food and placed it down next to the rest.

Every day that I work with these animals I just get surprised by their personalities and with some the sheer power they hold. Even with the injured animals, some are amazingly powerful. Next week I work three six hour days due to Zoo camp, so I need to get all the sleep I can get these next two days.

Till then...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

fire, heat and more fire!!!

wow whats a busy week it has been, July began with a shelter fire, yes ANOTHER shelter was burned to the ground!! This time we were prepared and brought in plenty of water cans and extra people to put it out. The weekend was wild as expected, the parks were filled to parking capacity and the trash on Monday showed, 2 full size pickup trucks filled with trash from one park alone.

At the end of Monday we all looked at the weather forecast and could see the heat was on for the rest of the week!! Late Monday night i get a text message from a coworker "Your gona need your gear tomorrow!!" All that i could think is fire gear? i hope not!! Well my hopes were not answered, we did have a fire only 4 miles from the park. This fire was tiny but stubborn!! Up on a cliff face and deep in the duff this one would need water, fortunately enough the town fire department had laid hose up there the day before. Although the fire was only .25 acres it still took over 2500 gallons of water and 6 hours to put out. the temps were up around 105 on the cliff.
UPDATE: shortly after posting this the first time i was informed of another fire this time up in plymouth near the hancock lake fire we had in april. this one was named the whitestone fire, at the time we arrived in scene at 830am thursday there was 2 miles of hose out and a full crew on scene working hard, preliminary cause was fireworks but a semiactive fire ring was found while fighting the fire. When my squad left the fire at 4pm we had put 39,000 gallons of water on this fire and expected to return the next morning to continue, unfortunately because of prior commitments i was not able to join the crew on friday.

trying to stay cool

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Better Late the Never!

I completed my internship shifts at second nature with the close of my third shift... that however was last tuesday !
this post has been very delayed for many reasons, mostly due to unplaned travel across the country and back all in five days time. as i sit here writing this I have about an hour before I need to report to my office ready to go back out into the field for my fourth shift. I have to say that i am excited. One, its great to be back in utah after spending the fourth of july in Washington DC
It was nice to see family, friends , and the girlfriend but all good things have to come to an end. So here i am trying to cram in a blog post in a very small amount of time.
Last shift was great, we had perfect weather to be working with and a good staff team. This week I was again back with a Teenage boy group. The entire week was full of surprises and challenges but at the end of shift we had managed to get a lot done with the kids and thus left feeling good about things.
One of the things that i struggle with is coming up with things to say about my job here on this blog. that is not due to lack of exciting things that are happening to me every day i am at work, but more due to the fact that i can not talk about a lot of what is going on in the every day workings of Second Nature Entrada. A lot of this is to protect the clients, the other part of it is to Protect second nature as a company.
Despite this minor set back that i have run into on these postings fear NOT! i have other things to write about. like the WORLD CUP, ok im kidding, but on a lighter note it is amazing to me how deeply engrained some of our clients are that the first thing they ask us for upon meeting new staff is not our names, but most of the time for sports updates. it is very interesting.
in feature blog post i will be spending a lot of time talking about my internship project that i am working on for second nature and unity. Since this job is a six credit deal I have to have a project that I work on through out the summer. the basic plan is a field staff resource manual involving hard skills.
More on that later, for now i must dash off into the field for me I hope that all my unity friends are having a great summer

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The craziness slows for a bit...

Hello Blog readers,

I am have come to the conclusion that zoo life goes by one main theme, that I have come to the glory of learn very quickly.....Always expect the unexpected. Now with that said this week was slightly slow and uneventful. I pretty much worked every other day this week starting on Sunday. My big task for the day was to do animal care in both the Visitor Center and the Education building. Nothing really hard about it, it just takes a little bit of time to do. I mean, it's only....ohhh....35 tanks to check. Luckly it was pretty much a fasting day so all I had to do was scrub out water dishes. So I finished the Visitors Center, did my ed talk, then did the Ed building and got to go home.

Tuesday we had a staff meeting to go over some things that needed reminding and correcting. One of those topics being the new composting system. It's still has a lot of loose ends but much of it was cleared up for me. Everything else was like cleaning up after your done, mostly common sense things. But as Lara always says "Common sense isn't so common." After the meeting I had to do a slightly late ed talk, and then I had to keep the Visitor Center open for an hour.

Thursday was one of those expect the unexpected days. I came in and did all of the handling I could get done, well the ones I was signed off on I should say. That took no time at all, even having to deal with the Great Horned Owls craziness. Next I was suppose to observe Brandon do a Wild Party with Nadia, but all of the full time staff had a meeting, which led to the aviary needing to be done. I volunteered, and then half way down to prepare diets I realized it was Bird of Prey day and perch scrubbing...Oh how I love perch scrubbing...Now I don't know if I ever described what Bird of Prey diet looks like. Just thing of a log of ground everything that smells like meat and stale freetos. Yeah I probably just ruined that for everyone, but it's kind of like that. At least I was done with that in time for cupcakes from the birthday party. That's probably the best part about them, free food! I ended that crazy day with cleaning out the Eastern Milk Snakes tank before I left.

Today was interesting from the moment I pulled up. I climbed out of my jeep to see the Ed. Keeper Joy walking along the river. I asked what she was up too and she said one of the pelicans was in the river and she was trying to find out where he was. She then proceeded to tell me that I was going to probably have to help her catch it in about a half an hour. THENNNN she told me that Nadia had a flat tire so that left no one to do Visitor Center care. I didn't mind, it was better than doing discovery carts for 2 hours. The whole time I was having to clean around guest which slowed me down a little bit. But once again it was a fasting so I didn't have to do much. Half way through cleaning I look out the door to see the Pelican walking down the walkway, keepers shortly behind. Also at one point I went up to the ed building and was greeted by the Peacock trying to jump through the door into the building. The Peacocks at our zoo are free roaming and constantly like to stand in front of doors.

I'm feeling great about my internship so far. I'm gaining so much experience and I'm starting to get into that rut of knowing what needs to be done one what day without have to really check anything.

Till next time!