Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why do I Volunteer?

In 2009 at the Annual Rocky Mountain Raptor Auction, as we were eating dinner, my friend, said, "why don't you join, this would be right up your alley".  So I went to the volunteer meeting and the rest is history.  It has been 5 years of excitement, knowledge, meeting new friends, learning how to gut animals and not let it bother me and handling our magnificent birds.  The birds have effected me spiritually and emotionally.  Even though they are wild and don't particularly like us, you can't help get attached.  I think sometimes I have a favorite bird, but it all comes down to I love them all and their special attitudes.

When I was an E1 trainee, it was time to get Swainson's Hawk Female out to feed and weigh.  Jean was my trainer, we went in together, and SWHAF was very patient with me.  Jessing and so on went well, but once on my fist, I took a step backwards into a log and fell on my butt.  I made certain to keep my left arm up in the air, she never moved.  I was astounded.

RMRP Volunteer

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Spirit Takes Flight

By Carol Dollard

On Veterans Day 2005, I got word that my dear friend & coworker, Mike, had been killed in the war in Iraq.   The news was heartbreaking.  A few days later on the way to my regular Sunday morning shift at the Raptor Center I picked up a newspaper – there on the front page was a half page article about Mike & the sacrifice he had made for the rest of us.  I sat in the parking lot looking at the pics and reading the article with tears rolling down my cheeks.  I collected myself and went in for treatments only to learn that we were going to release an American Kestrel that day – right there on the grounds of the center.  In honor of Mike, the crew let me be the one to actually release the AMKE.   As I pulled back the drape to release him, the bird gave me one backward glance & then took off – vocalizing & circling over our heads several times before settling in a nearby tree.  There was something incredibly healing in that moment.  To this day I cannot see an AMKE without thinking of Mike.  

P.S. For the record it made me tear up just to type up this story.

Carol Dollard is a long time supporter and volunteer at the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program.  Her husband and two daughters have all volunteered for RMRP and one daughter had held a staff position for some time.  She shared this story with us as a way to reflect on how much working with the raptors has impacted her life.