How long have you been volunteering with HWI?
We became docents in October of 2021.
How did you get started volunteering with HWI?
I saw a post on Facebook by Education and Outreach Director Melissa Halvorsen, who is a former colleague from Living Planet Aquarium, about HWI needing docents. My daughter Emily and I knew nothing about HWI at the time, but we knew that working with Melissa again would be an amazing experience. We decided to apply and I am so glad we did. It has been such a rewarding experience to stand with an awesome bird on my glove while I educate people of all ages about the fascinating characteristics of raptors.
What is your “spark bird?”
Tammy: Owls, I have always loved them. The Owl Forest at Tracy Aviary has always been my favorite exhibit.
Emily: My spark bird is the ostrich. They were the first bird I had the opportunity to work with and I still have a soft spot for them.
What do you do outside of volunteering for HWI?
Tammy: I volunteer at the Hogle Zoo as a Zoo Aide in the Africa Savanna. I also help with special events and assist with giraffe, elephant, and rhino feeds. In my spare time, I love to go for walks on the trail near my house where I can spot numerous varieties of birds including robins, finches, pigeons, crows, and even a Red-tailed Hawk on occasion. I also love to travel and go hiking.
Emily: In my free time I volunteer at Tracy Aviary. I help with diets, cleaning, and enrichment of the eagles, seriemas, lorikeets, and vultures. I also volunteer alongside my mother at Hogle Zoo. When I’m not volunteering, I love to take pictures of wildlife, draw, and hang out with my friends.
What is your favorite moment from volunteering?
Tammy: My favorite moment would have to be when we were helping at the West Valley Library while they were doing COVID testing and vaccines. I think every single staff member came over to meet Artemis the Western Screech-owl and Jack the Merlin and, of course, take pictures. It was such a good feeling to see the smiles and excitement on the faces of this group of people who have been through so much stress with COVID.
Emily: I cannot choose a favorite memory working with HWI. I just love to be in front of a group of people with a bird on my glove educating them and encouraging them to have a passion for birds.
Why should people care about conserving raptors?
Tammy: People should care about conserving raptors because they are apex predators and as such their health and well-being are indicative of the health and well-being of our entire ecosystem. We need to remember we share this planet with all the animals that inhabit it and we can have either a positive impact or a devastating impact depending on our actions.
Emily: As an apex predators, raptors are important for controlling prey populations. Without them, the whole ecosystem would collapse.