My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Going back to my roots!

Great Indian Hornbill

I remember back when I started college that one of my professors was telling me “your life is like a tree … but it is up to you to decide which branch of the tree to sit on …. some branches might break …. you might get a little bored sitting on some branches ….. some branches might hold you strong forever …. but it is up to you to decide where to sit!”. Looking back to my past, I now seem to better understand his points that he was trying to get across to me.

Gaudy Barbet

I will right out blame an ex-girlfriend for my interest in birds!! I would sit on my back porch talking to her on the phone (so mom couldn’t hear what we were talking about) and just enjoy watch the birds. Here were all these birds and I started to wonder, “What are the names of these birds that are visiting the feeders”? Sure enough, I got a field guide and my obsession with birds continued. I first used “birds” to get my girlfriend into the woods (to look for birds, wink) and then I used birds to get away from her! All in all, we had fun exploring nature together like the time we first saw a dozen Turkey Vultures flying overhead (I can still remember those exciting moments like it was yesterday). My phone bills became very high once I headed off to college (talking to this same ex-girlfriend for hours and hours). At this point I needed to get a job so that I could continue talking to her on the phone!! Lucky, I lived right around the corner from the National Aviary in Pittsburgh where I solicited them for a part time job. Lucky they hired me the following week and then could never get rid of me!!

Marsh Room

I continue to work for the Aviary (in the gift shop) during the week (between classes) and then on weekends I volunteered with the Education and Animal Care Department. I had logged in over 600 volunteer hours over those two years which I lived in Pittsburgh. This was the critical point in my life where I had to choose “which was the strongest tree branch that I should be sitting on” (and hope it didn’t break)?? Do I continue my passion with my communications degree (video/photography) or do I climb over to another branch and give the Environmental Education thing a try? I probably should backtracking a little; I had just received my associates degree and the Aviary asked me to video shoot 3 public service announcements with Jim Fowler from Mutual Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. During that visit I had asked Jim if he had any suggestions for me getting into the wildlife photography business!! His comment was “know your wildlife before you start photographing them, most photographers start with the biology background and then focus into the photography”. So, with his wisdom my new life path had been drawn out in a matter of seconds!! But how in the world would I get to that point?

Burrowing Owls Ruddy Duck

I took Jim Fowlers advice and started doing some schooling back in Western New York to focus on some studies in field biology (and learn more about my subjects). I seemed to have backed away from the video/photography passion that I had enjoyed all through my earlier years. But who couldn’t resist chase birdies around? Most of the reason for the disappearance in my video/photography work was more due more to the cost of equipment, having no time to do it and having a way to distribute my photography to everyone. Obviously I have once again started exploring those branches of interest threw flickr, and prices doing down in equipment. Where I go from here, is hard to say but as tree branches break, I am leaping onto bigger and better branches on that tree of life.

Inca Tern Mandarin Duck

I still have so many wonderful memories from places like the National Aviary in Pittsburgh which is where I was first introduced to everything that I am doing today. I could write for hours about the many experiences and opportunities that were offered to me while volunteering at the Aviary. I would like to wish Dayton Baker the Aviary’s first Executive Director (after becoming a private organization from the city) a wonderful retirement after 15 exciting years making the National Aviary one of the most renown aviaries in the world. I would personally like to thank him for giving me the numerous opportunities (through the aviary) in helping me understand what my destined path that I have currently accomplished today and other future paths. It is always good to remember those strong roots that help in guiding me to where I am today.

Marsh Room

All pictures were taking at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh during the summer of 1995. Names of each of the species will be located on flickr if you follow the picture links.

8 responses

  1. Congrats to Dayton Baker on his retirement!
    Love reading about your history again! I like the tree analogy – sometimes a huge branch breaks off underneath you and that climb back up the tree to another branch and figuring out which branch to light on is a real tough one – I know from personal experience!!!
    Love all of your photos, too. It will be interesting to watch your career, Mon@rch!

    9 March 2007 at 3:49 pm

  2. I enjoyed reading a bit of your career history and finding out how you came to be a naturalist.

    9 March 2007 at 9:17 pm

  3. Mon@rch, you are so great to share your history with us. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and analogies. You’ve obviously made some good decisions in your career thus far and I look foward to knowing what your future brings! I’m certain it will be a very bright one. You have it all – personality, extensive knowledge, and the giving nature of a very cool naturalist.

    9 March 2007 at 9:46 pm

  4. These pictures are beautiful. I think Jim Fowler has some good advice, I think I’ll follow it too. Oh yeah, the professor had good advice too. You’re so lucky to have had good advice.

    Blogs, birds and photography were made for each other.

    9 March 2007 at 10:23 pm

  5. @ Nature – I have had a few big branches break, I think we all have been there before! Glad your climbing back up to the top of the tree!
    @ Lynne – Thanks and was easy to write since it was good times at the Aviary!
    @ Mary, thanks and you can be sure that my not so good decisions never made or will make the blog! But, that is how we learn! You are starting to make me blush now! Thanks!
    @ Barb – he was a very cool guy! Don’t forget, this was back 12 years ago and he just kept talking about when him and Johnny (Carson) would go to Africa, ect.. He is one cool guy! But, how do I take all this to the next level? That is the question!

    9 March 2007 at 10:52 pm

  6. Very cool background!

    I wish you courage leaping from one branch to another when you decide to jump! 🙂 I know what you’re feeling. It’s exciting.


    10 March 2007 at 8:44 am

  7. Thanks Randy!

    10 March 2007 at 9:35 am

  8. J. Alan Hendricks

    I must be sitting on the cracked branch…lol….very nice post Mon@arch, like always..nice to know a little bit about you now.


    11 March 2007 at 11:14 pm

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