On a misty, frost covered morning in Cortland, NY I’ve found myself planted amongst biologists of all backgrounds and expertise with a common thread of purpose; to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats. If you would have told me four years ago, when I started veterinary school, that I would be here now I would not have believed you. My quest for promoting wildlife conservation prompted me toward veterinary school and through my (crazy intense!) four years I realized that I wanted to reach a broader audience. I found my passion through educational outreach and by gaining powerful experiences from a diverse range of professionals including wildlife rehabilitation clinics in Massachusetts, Florida, and New York. My journey has been anything but direct, but I feel for the first time like I’m finally connecting to the kind of work I want to pursue.
The New York Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered me the position of educational outreach coordinator and I jumped at the opportunity. Being an Ithaca native I consider this neck of the woods home. To be a direct partner in protecting and promoting wildlife conservation through education is where I’m meant to be. There are so many experts, amazing research, and vast community connections happening right here that I want to highlight. I hope my time here will showcase the amazing work and individuals honestly just trying to make our world a better place.
This time of year is one where we give thanks for where we are in our lives. We give thanks for our families, friends, and the natural resources we have at our disposal. This got me thinking, what does this time of year mean to most wildlife? Are crows giving thanks for the cold and dark days? Not so much. As we transition from fall in to winter many species are preparing for the winter months with specific behaviors. Bats go through a period of hibernation where they can actually lower their body temperature and metabolic rate as an effort to conserve energy during a period of time where food sources are scarce. Reptiles experience a similar metabolic process called brumation. This time period is triggered by a lack of heat and a decrease in sunlight. Fish are no different in that they go in to a period of less activity. Their metabolism drops and they tend to pool in the deepest parts of different bodies of water. Many migratory birds have flown south for the winter (not a bad idea) while those avian species who stick around fortify their reserves in consuming as much food as possible. Winter is coming and all the wildlife around here are in major preparation mode. We could all take a lesson here while eating our turkeys and stuffing to remember that our resources, while at times plentiful, are not bottomless. There is a delicate balance going on all around you and our choices and actions greatly impact our natural world.