Hello Cool Jobsters! Yes, I wandered away from my internet umbilical cord for a bit, but have at last returned. Thanks to everyone who checked up on the missing jimsmuse…all is well in the “real world”!
But enough about me — Kat Wilson’s cool job is MUCH more interesting! Kat is our second contributor from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (for the first see Liz Barlett, Museum Webmaster), and judging from what I’ve read so far, the museum qualifies as my first official “Cool Place to Work” on this website due to the numerous cool jobs there, and the cool people who do them (and who are willing to share with us)!
I was fortunate enough to grow up in central New Jersey near The Raptor Trust, a non-profit organization that specializes in conservation and rehabilitation of wild birds of prey. I remember how exciting it can be to see raptors up close. However, judging by the great image Kat included of herself and one of her “co-workers”, she gets a lot closer on a daily basis than I ever did on my 5th grade class trip!
Job title and description of what I do:
I am the Free Flight Specialist for the Raptor Free Flight Program at a wonderful living museum located in Arizona. I train raptors (and a few non-raptors) native to the Sonoran Desert to fly free in a desert setting for visitor viewing. Visitors witness natural behaviors of the birds that they would see in the wild, but, unlike in the wild, are able to get a very close look at these birds and their behaviors.
What I love about my job:
I love every part of my job! I am fortunate to be able to work so closely with a variety of species of raptors including: Harris’ hawks, barn owls, Great horned owls, ferruginous hawks, and prairie falcons to name a few. We also have a roadrunner and a couple Chihuahuan ravens, both of which are incredible to watch! If I had to pick a favorite part of my job (which is very hard because I truly do love all of it!), I would pick flying our family group of Harris’ hawks. They are a social hawk, so we are able to fly anywhere from 3-5 birds at a time. It is incredible to see the interaction between the birds!
Besides training the birds, the other side of my job is to educate the public about raptors which I also love to do. I hope they are able to take away a greater appreciation of the natural world after seeing our demonstration. I also hope that the visitors’ curiosity is piqued and they will go home and investigate the natural world wherever they live.
What I hate about my job:
Absolutely nothing! I have found my dream job and thoroughly enjoy all aspects of it!
What education, training, or just plain luck you need to get a job like mine:
I have a Bachelors degree in Education and a Masters degree in Environmental Education. I volunteered with the Raptor Free Flight Program for many years while I was a teacher and then pursuing my Masters degree. I worked as the Education Program Manager at an aviary for a little over a year, and then got a job at the museum. I got my new role at the museum as Free Flight Specialist just recently when a job opened up in the department and I was moved in to fill it. So, in regards to how I got my job I like to think of it as just plain luck along with a bit of training over the years!