|Brittany, at her summer ornithology|
Brittany T. has been on her clinic crew since 2011, and in 2012 she became part of the Education team.
"Back in 2010 when I started my first year at the University of Minnesota, my mom came to visit for Parents Weekend. One of the activities offered that weekend was to visit The Raptor Center for a Saturday program/tour. I remember my first thought being, “Why is there a center for learning about dinosaurs on campus?” (No really, that’s how little I knew about the bird world). That first raptor program taught me so much in such a short amount of time, and since that day I can honestly say I have learned more about raptors than I ever thought possible.
The first crew I joined was in the clinic. Most people in their lifetime are lucky to see a bald eagle or a red-tailed hawk flying high above them, or might get lucky enough to spot a great-horned owl in their backyard, or a Peregrine Falcon in downtown St. Paul. This opportunity to volunteer in the clinic has brought me face to face with the more common species of raptors as well as some that many people may never get the chance to see in the wild or captivity – from large great grey owls and osprey to very small Northern saw-whet owls and merlins. On the clinic crew, we spend the shift preparing food and feeding the approximately 800 injured raptors that come in every year. Being so close to these powerful birds is just breathtaking. Knowing that some species such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons were helped by The Raptor Center makes working with those species even more of a privilege. It is an amazing experience to feed injured raptors and be a part of an organization that works so hard to heal these spectacular birds and return them back into the wild where they belong.
I have been on that clinic crew since 2011 and my love for TRC quickly expanded into other areas. In 2012, I became a lobby assistant on an Education crew, welcoming visitors. Just one year later, I am now giving tours and learning new things every day. Back on that first tour, I was fascinated at how much that volunteer knew about raptors and how well they were able to educate the public about the world of raptors. With every tour I give I hope that I can give that same feeling of awe to someone else.
I know it sounds cheesy to say that TRC changed my life but it really did! Thinking that TRC was a center for learning about dinosaurs probably says a lot about how little I knew of the bird world in general. My major in college was Biology, but I was more interested in mammals than birds. My clinic crew at TRC began my fascination with birds so much so that I took a field ornithology course up at Lake Itasca. I realized then that I would end up in the field of ornithology and would be working with birds for the rest of my life. Fast forward from that first day on my clinic shift to now spending my entire Saturday (every Saturday) at TRC giving tours in the education department and then immediately afterwards going to work with the wild raptors in the clinic. I am also now an Avian Nursery Coordinator at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota helping to raise and care for injured and orphaned baby birds to release them back into the wild. I can honestly say that had I not gone on that program and contacted TRC to volunteer I would not be where I am today"