Wednesday, July 25, 2012

National Aviary - Past Two Weeks

Things have been extremely busy here at the aviary. Summer camps are in full gear, and there's plenty of newly fledged chicks up and about as well. I have now worked on all three of the routines offered to the interns. Currently I am working within the Tropical forest exhibits and have been settling into the routine quite nicely. After a few more days I should have it down no problem, and won't need to constantly check in with Diane or Jaime my trainer supervisors. Downside to the routine...I hate fire ants and there are plenty on this routine.

Over in the wetland exhibit we have been helping Dave tackle an algae problem by force. The pond is being drained once a week and pressure washed/hosed down (believe it or not, a whole day worth of work). With some extra hands we have been picking the algae up by hand and scrubbing it off with brushes where the hose can't seem to blast it off. Little by little over the past two weeks we have been hitting different sections and completely detail cleaning them. If we keep it up and manage to get the algae under control, future maintenance should no longer be such a huge issue for us.Which in return, saves us time and perhaps even some money.

As far as my training projects go, I have been making great progress in some, and very little in others. Joni and Squiggie are getting the hang of my stationing training. Squiggie seems to be picking it all up much faster than Joni, but once they see one or the other listening to me, they will jump right on the band wagon immediately. Along with those two, I've spent loads of time working to get the Flamingos re-conditioned for the flamingo encounters. I have been timing my sessions and dressing like guests to help them adjust to presence in their territory. It is also my hope to relieve some of their aggression towards people in general especially since it is their breeding season and they have been making work difficult for our trainers and interns. It has been working seemingly well for the past two weeks and the length of the sessions has nearly double since I have started. The only downfall is that they are constantly attempting to nest in high traffic areas, where myself and all the trainers must work. This creates new aggression between the flamingos and our staff and does appear to be holding us back a great deal. Training outside of breeding season may work more efficiently however these birds can have a wide range of timing given their habitat conditions. Here at the aviary we can mimic rain almost every day, and food is available to them with no shortage. Those two things are key to their natural breeding habits, and in the wild, the breeding season generally mimics those conditions and can last the entire time those needs are met for the most part. Regaining our ability to have flamingo encounters offers far too much to the aviary to just drop or let go however.

My time spent here will be wrapping up in the next few weeks, and I've been working on networking with some of the co-workers here. Perhaps in the future I could seek advice from them, or ask for references. I'm definitely looking forward to a busy time until I leave for Unity, and it's time to soak in every last drop of knowledge I can find here. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week 5 at harbor family services

Not alot out of the ordinary this week, although I guess what is ordinary here can be pretty unique.  The heat seemed to bring out the tempers in a few residents, with the smallest seeming to have the worst.  It's hard to see the tempers coming sometimes, but there is a system of accountability for their actions that is built into the program that quite often gives an easy way to remind them there are better ways of dealing with stress.  Each resident has a sheet for each day that keeps track of how well they followed the rules.  Each day if they don't follow the rules, which could include not cleaning their room or doing chores, or acting out and not following staff directions, points are deducted.  This point system is used to determine what type of activities they are allowed to do.  There are 3 levels, level 1 meaning that they stay on grounds and have not been doing what is expected of them at all.  This could also mean they will be confined to their room for the majority of the day.  to get off level one they have to keep a minimum number of points for a week.  Level 2 means that they are following a majority of the rules, and after a few days on level 2 are allowed to do things like go hiking, swimming, visit the library.  There is alot more freedom with this, which at first some residents take as a chance to act out, such as running away, swearing, threatening violence.  If these actions happen they are first dropped down to the first day on level 2, and than if they continue they are dropped down to level 1.  Level 3 is the highest level and there is a great amount of freedom involved.  They are allowed in the kitchen occasionally, and don't have to go up to their room for quiet time if they don't want to.  If they are old enough they may also be allowed to play rated M games on one of the game systems in the house.  There is actually a level called OLS (off level system).  Although every resident is on the level system, the title seems to have a bit of honor on it among residents, but they standards are pretty high, as these kids are expected to be able to set an example for the rest of the residents.  There is a 3 ring binder where all this is kept track off, along with there individual treatment goals.  The activities required to rise in the level system are stressed as things that are expected of everyone in society, but there is a little room for human error.  No one is expected to be perfect, since no one really is.  Bad days are expected, and although they may drop down to the beginning of their level, they are shown better ways to deal with those bad days so that they won't drop next time.