Volunteer Spotlight: Stephanie Hookey

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

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

In my first year of undergrad I had the pleasure of meeting some of the volunteers and birds at an event hosted at OVC. After further researching the organization I was inspired by the goals and values of Wild Ontario and quickly decided that it was something I really wanted to be a part of.

2. When did you join the program?

I joined the program in September of 2015 when I was entering my second year of undergrad.

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

It is hard to even begin to answer this question because I can easily say that joining the Wild Ontario team was the best decision of my undergrad. Aside from learning raptor handling and training techniques, I have developed more confidence, communication skills and a genuine love for meeting new people and sharing my love of wildlife with others. I have also been able to enhance my leadership skills through my role as team lead for our female Red-tailed Hawk Freyja. As a member of Wild Ontario, I am surrounded by an incredible community of volunteers who inspire me every day and this has no doubt had a huge impact on shaping the person I am today!

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

The bird I currently work with is a Red-tailed Hawk named Freyja. If I had to choose one word to describe her it would be “derpy”. Although Freyja’s eyes are nearly completely brown now, when I first began working with her two years ago they were a very light cream colour. This is characteristic of juvenile Red-tails and consequently, these bright eyes gave her a very youthful and silly expression. However, she is an extremely powerful and large raptor with a big appetite! Easily motivated by food, we take advantage of this to positively reinforce good behavior. On walks you can find this lovely lady wind surfing and showing off her beautiful brick-red tail. Although a little nervous in front of large crowds, she is getting more and more comfortable each day and we hope she will start attending programs on a regular basis very soon!

5. What’s up next for you?

I am currently in phase 1 of the DVM program at the Ontario Veterinary College so I am looking forward to 4 more years here in Guelph!

6. What others say about Steph:

"Steph is a solid handler, excellent leader and an all-round cheerful and upbeat person. She's just a pleasure to work with, and her positivity translates perfectly when educating the public."

"Steph is so kind and fun! She works hard, she's a great mentor and she always makes us laugh!"

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