I love what I do! Sure, it's really hard some days when it's impossible to do everything that I want to (or need to), but then there's those days when we do something that is just amazing. I'm filled with an incredible satisfaction with the work that I'm doing each day to care for displaced animals and encourage interest and educate about science and nature. We create a fun environment to maximize the positive feeling associated with learning about science. It's hardly possible to get bored when a real live animal is right in front of you!
This weekend we did Animal Wonders' first Holiday event. In a series of interesting events the most wonderful thing played out. Our intern, Brooke, became interested in helping to create fundraising events to help the animals and the educational programs. She came up with an idea to take Santa Photos with an animal... why haven't I thought of this before!? It turns out her dad is basically Santa Clause and her mother is Mrs. Clause. Seriously. So the fun began and everything fell into place perfectly.
Ok, so I love Christmas. No, I love the Holiday season. I say it that way because I think it's mostly about the warm color scheme, awesome mood lighting, snow and icicles, giving gifts, and everyone seems to greet each other with more warmth and kindness than other times of the year. And it's not just Christmas that I love, it's everything from Halloween to the end of the year. I also like warm clothes and in Montana the winter is just getting going and warm clothes still feel novel.
Alright, the scene is set. I'm happy, Augusto is happy, everyone's happy, Santa is in the building, and animals are eager to get out and interact with the people. The first few kids venture in and see Santa in his fluffy red suit greeting them with a hearty "Ho Ho Ho!". As they walk up to Santa I feel like I'm watching a movie. I guess I never really got to do the whole Santa thing when I was a kid so this was kinda my first. I watched as they became serious when Santa was evaluating their behavior on his naughty and nice list. Their pure joy when they found out they were "nice". Then it was my turn, I got to introduce the kids, who were filled with so much joy, to the animals. Their eyes were big and I could see them start observing, inquiring, and discovering. Right there I was hit over the head, like a silent moment in chaos, that I love what I do.
Now, pair all this perfection with a very skilled photographer, Ryan Hellegaard, and you get priceless moments in time captured, like this one.
I love this picture.
So bring on the overwhelming days. Bring on the difficulties we face every single day. Because I wouldn't trade moments like this for an easier life any day. This might not seem like an important moment to some, but this is just one moment of many for Allisa, the girl in the photo. Her interest in animals brought her to this event and the joy she found here will stay with her. If we can continue to engage her interest in animals, then we can expand on that interest and create curiosity about the environments in which the animals survive. Environment associates to adaptation, associates to diversity, associates to biology, associates to chemistry, associates to physics. We can teach observation, inquiry, discovery, theory. This moment could be the beginning of a lifelong interest in science.