Special to OBSERVER
I am a Theatre Arts major from Palm Bay, Florida who doesn't know whether spending my time indoors hanging lights and sitting backstage all the time or outdoors with a camera in one hand and a field guide in the other is a better idea. This very long summer has helped me realize that I think I would rather be in the great outdoors and the amazing staff at the Jamestown Audubon Nature Center and Sanctuary has helped me make that realization.
When I started my summer as the college intern here at the Jamestown Audubon, I thought it was going to be all fun and games. And while I had a lot of fun and played plenty of games, I also worked a bit harder than I imagined I would.
At the beginning, I did a lot of observing and listening. I then asked many questions and successfully answered more than I thought I could. I read many books and field guides to learn all I could. I spent more than enough time outside and enjoyed every minute of it. And by the end, even though some days I spent wishing it were the end of the day, I enjoyed spending time with all of the kids who came on a field trip or to Day Camp.
I learned how to lead a successful Discovery Walk, what to do and what not to do with Day Campers, and that there are some days where I just wanted to spend time with animals and keep away from humans. I learned more than I ever thought I could about the local flora and fauna and experienced new things almost every day.
I saw goslings grow into geese for the first time in my life, I stumbled upon the mysterious "zombie slug," and I found a hidden passion for reptiles and amphibians. I came to realize that I thoroughly enjoy catching dragonflies and trying to identify them, I love sifting through mud and duckweed looking for critters in the pond, and I could spend countless hours flipping over rocks and logs looking for salamanders.
More than just learning facts about plants and the habits of animals, I learned that the road less traveled really is the best road to take. My friends told me I was foolish to leave the sunny beaches of Florida for almost four months. Some even told me that I wouldn't make it, that I would be begging to come home after 2 weeks. It was a bumpy road full of steep hills, deep valleys and days of missing my friends (and boyfriend); it has been a far more beautiful path than any I have ever been on in the Sunshine State. This journey has taught me about myself and helped me push boundaries that I haven't challenged before.
Over the course of this summer I have left my teens, climbed a mountain, tied many shoes, educated some children and gained more knowledge than I could have ever imagined. And even though this summer is coming to a close and I will soon return to college and the sunny beaches, my summer days spent at the Jamestown Audubon will not be soon forgotten. In fact I will remember them for quite a long time.
I obviously could not have completed this journey all alone. I want to thank a few people for assisting me on my journey: everyone at the Jamestown Audubon for all that they have done for me, my amazing Grandma for letting me live in her house and putting up with my awful eating habits, my momma for pushing me to be all that I can be, and Carl for not complaining too much about my absence this summer.
So if you have a chance to do something you've always wanted, or something that scares you, jump at the chance. Do it! You never know if the opportunity will present itself again. And you may just end up having the time of your life.
Visit Audubon at 1600 Riverside Road, located between Warren and Jamestown on Route 62. The trails are open dawn to dusk, the building is open from 10-4:30 daily, except Sunday when we open at 1. Visit www.jamestownaudubon.org for more information or call 716-569-2345.
Nikki Falcao is Audubon's intern this summer.