December 9, 2009

Squeaky Wheel Gets The Oil

Angalifu, an unloved gentleman.

I make a great squeaky wheel when I want something. Thanks to me taking every opportunity to voice my desire for work hours, my willingness to clean bird and kangaroo shit, and a big thanks to 2 coworkers who frequently give me their shifts, I get as many hours as the more senior staff. Hooray! Even better, I'm getting some extra hours being guide trained. Today was my first mock tour on the back of the truck with my supervisor and lead; it was nerve wracking, but it motivated me to go straight home, dig out an old notebook and compile information I need to work on.

But I feel a little restricted. What I can talk about with guests is strictly limited to the PR approved material submitted to my department. Most of this restriction is surrounding the 2007 wildfires and my unwillingness to blatantly lie to guests, but I also know there's a ton of information we could be saying that we don't. Granted, this is a 15 minute tour and there's a million things to talk about, so everything gets 15 seconds in the spotlight before it's time to move on. Still, knowing there's information out there we really aren't supposed to access, much less share, kind of bugs me. I may be just starting to spread my wings as a guide, but I feel like I can be, do and give so much more.

I also discovered an interest I apparently have: southern Californian conservation. Torrey Pines interest me a great deal, as does the WAP Nativescapes garden and California coastal sage scrub. I didn't have much interest in plants before I started learning about them, and that southern California is a biodiversity hotspot (who knew?), but having a better understanding of my own habitat and its international conservation status is changing that. This makes me pretty excited.

Nola, a true gentle giant and one of the last of her species.

I still have greater goals and still am interested in the creatures I no longer get close to (or even see) to research them on my own. There have been conflicting reports on the wild population of Northern white rhinos for years now, but my own searches show nothing new. It's well accepted that the subspecies is extinct in the wild and will be completely extinct probably before 2050. In my own lifetime I will see a species I feel personally connected to go completely extinct. If that's not depressing I don't know what is. Too bad animals can't be their own squeaky wheels. It's up to us to be their voice.

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