Volunteer Spotlight: Isabelle Kwon!

We asked Isabelle some questions about her time with Wild Ontario. Here's what she said:

1. Why did you decide to volunteer for Wild Ontario?

I initially decided to volunteer for Wild Ontario because the program seemed to tap into so many of my newfound interests at the time. I was just starting my first year of undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph, so I was already looking for ways to volunteer my time at my new school, and make some new friends at the same time. I had also discovered a passion for wildlife conservation and education through a zoo internship over the summer, so when I heard about Wild Ontario’s mission to educate the public about the native wildlife we can appreciate right in our province, I knew it would be the perfect way to keep developing that passion further. I’ve also always had a soft spot for birds, so the opportunity to learn more about and work closely with raptors as educational ambassadors obviously captured my attention back in first year.

2. When did you join the program?

I joined the program in September 2014.

3. What have you learned/how have you grown through this experience?

Both the people and the birds of Wild Ontario have certainly taught me many things and played a major role in how I’ve grown in (almost) the last three years. I have learned so much about Ontario’s biodiversity – extending way beyond birds – and that’s helped my appreciation of nature to grow more than I ever could have imagined. I have also developed skills that I’ve been able to apply to other jobs, including animal training and public education, just to name a few. My experiences and friends at Wild Ontario also helped me find the confidence to be a leader.

4. How would you describe the bird(s) you work with?

I’ve had the privilege to work with a few different birds over the years, but this summer, I was teamed up with Mowat the Barred Owl, in addition to Chinook the Peregrine Falcon. Peregrine Falcons are often regarded as a more ‘difficult’ species to train and look after, due to their very sensitive and fast-paced temperaments, and Chinook is no exception. She has taught me to make quick judgments of all possible influences on an animal’s behaviour, and even quicker observations of body language. She does not hesitate to let you know how she’s feeling, whether it’s with some loud honking right in your ear, or by taking a long, refreshing bath. Mowat is somewhat the opposite, as owls generally make an effort to hide their feelings. He is almost silent in comparison, and it has been a rewarding challenge to learn to recognize the subtle nuances of his behaviour.

5. What’s up next for you?

This year, I will be finishing up my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science. I will also continue working as a research assistant studying chicken behaviour and welfare, which I’ve enjoyed doing for the last two years. I don’t have any solid plans yet for what to do after I graduate, but I have a good feeling that I will end up continuing with research regardless of the path I end up taking.

6. What others say about Isabelle:

"Isabelle is a dedicated volunteer, a great leader and mentor, and an all-round pleasure to work with. It's hard to imagine Wild Ontairo without her!"

"Isabelle takes her leadership role very seriously. She's very approachable and does everything she can to make sure her teammates are happy and well-equopped to do their jobs properly!"

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