Editor’s note: In the spirit of our spring Nonprofit Issue, we reached out to volunteers from several local nonprofit organizations, asking them to reflect on what inspired them to begin their work and the impact it has had on both the community and themselves.
As a retired wildlife ecologist researcher with both the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Virginia, I found a treasure and instant connection in the mountains of Western North Carolina when I moved here in late 2012 and found the WNC Nature Center. For 10 years now, I have been using my knowledge of birds and other wildlife as a docent, usually spending a weekend day at the Center. As an educator, I use the center’s “biofacts” and tell visitors some interesting aspects of animals’ lives, often the birds of prey.
I enjoy the shift in retirement from educating university-aged students to a wider range of ages, from toddlers to senior citizens. Seeing how excited young children are when they see wildlife is especially rewarding. Today’s children spend far too much time with electronics and little time in nature. I believe bringing my own wildlife background and education into the visitor experience at the center adds a different dimension for many visitors.