It’s pretty much a story about birds, you know?
In my young life I learned two heart-breaking lessons. First, you CANNOT catch a sparrow by putting salt on its tail. (Fortunately, you can catch one with a box, a stick, and a string, but that’s another story.) Secondly, I learned that despite my belief that birds are made of secrets and magic, they are, in fact, made of chemistry and calculus. (Fortunately, I could change my major to English and tell stories where birds ARE made of secrets and magic.)
These early lessons in the unfairness of world truths taught me that there is always a work-around for every roadblock to your passions.
It turned out I was able to become a falconer without a degree in Avian Sciences and write about the astounding things raptors taught me about the natural world. And my experience as a falconer landed me a job training birds professionally at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
I soon discovered the pay to train animals was subsidized by the privilege of having such a cool job. There was no money to travel and discover the magic of birds and the landscape in foreign places. So, I leveraged my experience for free rides to work in Australia, consult in Mexico, and to write two best-selling parrot training books. Then, I was able to present lectures and workshops all around the country. I had appearances on television, segments on nationally syndicated radio shows, and continued to write for national and international publications. (I was even on Masterchef for a minute. Gordon Ramsey drank my wine, touched my falcon and told me I was too fond of cumin, but that’s another story too.)
I also got a real job. (What can I say? Falconry is expensive. Falcons expect a house, a truck, their own dog, and plenty of fine cuisine.) The President of The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens convinced me I could do more good for conservation with my writing degree by fundraising than with environmental education and took me under her wing.
I quickly learned that fundraising, at its heart, is compelling and passionate storytelling and I was hooked. I’ve gone on to fund raise for organizations that conserve the wild places that inspire me and that help teach others how to find their own stories in nature.
It’s been a wild journey chasing nature by wingbeats, but I’ve never stopped pondering the secrets and magic of birds and their wilderness. Life is the story we tell ourselves. I can’t wait to see what great adventure I get to write myself into next.