Today marks four months of employment in Alaska, it also marks the end of my season with an incredible community in a breathtaking location. I learned more this summer then I ever thought I would. I was constantly pushed to improve myself as both a birder and an educator.
Guest enjoying a sunny morning in front of Aialik Glacier
Everyday my guests asked me a slew of questions… several I did not know the answers to. I enjoyed the challenge, the opportunity to stretch and expand my nature knowledge. I frequently would say, “That is a great question, and I'm not sure, I’ll look it up and get back to you.” The content of their questions were wide-ranging and some uniquely specific.
One guest asked; “I know that owls can rotate their heads 270˚— but what about Bald Eagles?” Right? What about Bald Eagles?? Hmm… never thought to wonder about that.
Bald Eagles can rotate their head ~180˚ in each direction!
Alaska Wildland Adventures Guests birding outside the lodge!
I absolutely have the intention of maintaining a beginners mind, but I guess I can be guilty of slipping into a less productive mindset, assuming that I know all there is to know! However there is always more to learn and improve upon especially in coastal Alaska!
Horned Puffin puttering around the waters of Aialik Bay
The location I was based out of had a diversity of ecosystems with their respectively diverse components. Whether it was; intertidal life, salmon and nutrient cycles, coastal lagoons, glacial ecology, temperate coniferous rainforests, Alaskan wildflowers, bird migration or any of the other exciting natural world phenomenon’s that I got to explore, my natural history knowledge exploded as I became immersed in the environment.
Views from the Overlook Ridge Trail
I also found myself stretching in my capacity to connect. I grew more patient and compassionate. I found myself matching the pace of our guests, at times actually slowing the actual physical pace and many times making the effort to meet the guests at their level of interest and knowledge. This challenge has catalyzed my personal growth as an educator. The concepts I was sharing were often complex, and it was critical to make sure that my guests could find value, digest the topics, and achieve a sense of mastery (and pleasure). It was critical to find that sweet spot, and as I stretched the feedback from my guests reinforced my growth!
BIJS on an overnight to McMullen Cove
Thanks to all the amazing friends and people I met this summer. I couldn’t have asked for a better time. Shout out Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge and Alaska Wildland Adventures, ya’ll are amazing!
BIJS's last day kayak guiding for the summer!
A fiery sunset on the Lower Lagoon behind the lodge
When I return to my BIRDS by BIJS pursuits in California, I will certainly be incorporating these experiences to enhance and improve my walks and interpretation techniques.
I am thoroughly excited to step back in the swing of things with BIRDS by BIJS and I’ve got some serious things in the works!
What about you? What did you get into this summer? Did you get outside and see some nature? What were some highlight moments and takeaways from your time?
Please feel free to comment below!