Glen Helen operates the area’s only raptor rehabilitation center. The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to release healthy animals back into the wild. Injured birds are brought in by caring people from all over the community and are given a new chance at life. The Raptor Center provides around-the-clock care to ensure the best chance of release for these animals. On top of the care required, the employees also make it a priority to educate the public about the importance of raptors. If a bird cannot be released due to injuries, it may become an ambassador bird. These birds reside in the front enclosures that are open to the public and may also travel with employees as they inform the public about them.
My co-op working at the Raptor Center has taught me so much about myself and the wildlife I work with, in addition to opening to door for me in regard to future opportunities in conservation. I serve as the data analyst for the center and work on-site at least once a week to gain hands-on experience with the birds. This is at odds with most people who have co-oped here, who typically stick with physical work, which consists of cleaning the enclosures, feeding the birds, and even handling and bird training. However, even with the limited time I have spent with the animals, I find interactions with them extremely rewarding and have learned to be calm and respectful even in situations where you may feel uncertain or uncomfortable.
Most of my work is comprised of organizing raw data collected at the center over the past fifty years. I scan each binder of data so that I have all of the documents in a PDF before manually entering each piece of information into a spreadsheet. The purpose of this is to provide the center with valuable statistics that are easily accessible. Some of these numbers include the average time birds spend here and
the leading causes of injured raptors. This job is important because it is preserving paper records that might otherwise get damaged or destroyed, and because data entry takes an incredible amount of time that the full-time employees caring for raptors do not have.
My time here exceeded my expectations and I plan to continue volunteering at the Raptor Center and working on this data project until I graduate in the spring.