Thoughtful Thursday: The Lesson of the Osprey

Published August 09, 2012

From National Aquarium Visitor Programs Coordinator Marnie Greig

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in osprey banding at the Patuxent River Nature Center with the National Aquarium’s Youth Programs staff and some Aquarium on Wheels students. As a seasoned staff member, I was reluctant at first to take the one empty spot, but I was encouraged by my younger colleagues to go, and so I did.

Why did I hesitate? I had forgotten what a rare gift a "field day" can be, and that when you combine nature and a rowdy bunch of delightful teenagers, life can really be very sweet. I had forgotten that our Aquarium connections are just as unique in the field as they are inside our pyramidal walls.

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Aquarium on Wheels is an after-school and summer program for Baltimore-area high school students that combines science, conservation, job training, and the theater arts to promote environmental stewardship. I can now see why it’s an award-winning program. As these teens came nose to beak with a magnificent bird, there was an instant connection to nature.

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Holding a creature that exudes beauty, power, and grace is amazing; seeing the bond that ignites a smile on the faces of these kids is even better. What, I wonder, was the osprey telling them?

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I could not help but think that soon these teens, like their osprey counterparts, will be leaving their nests and soaring to new heights.

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I’m glad for their brief encounter with the osprey, and I hope that the National Aquarium’s legacy to them will be to always understand, protect, and respect their natural world. I want them to succeed; but I also want to offer them one wish… and that is to always keep at least one day a year for a field trip. That’s really a lesson for us all.

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