Every now and then I allude to my first educational go-around and the mental battle that played out during those years. There was no question it was all about science, but the particular study that I would see through to completion was by no means set in stone at the time. And if you are familiar with the “About” section of JournOwl, then you know I ultimately sacrificed passion for green; you know the kind that sparks greed. But before you judge me too harshly definitely read the brief description of how I have begun to turn things around in the last couple of years.
Getting back to the story, my initial scholarly meanderings included a schedule that was Anthropologically-biased. I loved and to this day am still infatuated with Anthropology, perhaps just shy of my ardor for wildlife biology and conservation. And yes I do eventually plan to take those last couple of units to sew up a Minor in Anthropology.
The year was 1996 (I believe) and the class was absolutely perfect. There were no lectures to speak of, no formal class meetings, a few required professor-student interactions, a lengthy term paper, and a whole lot of chimpanzee observations. At 3 intervals a week for the entire semester, I positioned myself on a wooden bench observing the chimpanzees at the Sacramento Zoo. Each 3 hour visit was an amazing adventure as I diligently noted behaviors, described personality traits, and simply watched chimpanzees interact with themselves, their captive environment, and human visitors. It was like stepping into the shoes of famed anthropologist/primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall; minus the jungles and rigors of Gombe. But, I felt a connection to the woman I had come to admire.
The year was 2009 and the Wildlife Conservation Expo was absolutely perfect. However, this time there was most definitely a lecture to speak of…and with a standing ovation Dr. Goodall set the stage with her ever famous chimp call greeting. It was not about upcoming projects, nor was it about chimpanzees. It was a platform to deliver a message of hope to an audience that was not only captivated by her presence but dedicated to wildlife protection. And as if drawing a sword from its sheath, she pulled a California Condor feather from a cardboard tube and presented it to us all as a symbol of how a species can be rehabilitated from the brink of extinction. She presented conservationists with a symbol of hope.
“It’s up to us to give them a second chance.”
Dr. Jane Goodall
She couldn’t be more right!
The auditorium’s crowd eventually dispersed, I had the honor of a brief conversation with Dr. Goodall herself, obtained a few autographed books, and retrieved a photo that I will cherish forever.