By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
I’ve got to admit: being a reporter is a pretty cool gig. I get to spend my days learning new things, meeting new people and experiencing new things.
One day, I’ll get to have a conversation with a town mayor, the next a CEO for a billion-dollar company, and the day after that a 5-year-old kid enjoying a day at the park.
I get to meet students and professionals, politicians, police officers, scientists, community activists, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, veterans, civilians and more. And those are just the different kinds of people I get to meet.
This job also affords me the opportunity to become acquainted with a variety of fauna, as well — from Madagascar hissing cockroaches, to brown pelicans, to endangered sea turtles, to rodeo horses and bulls, to chickens, goats, rabbits, lizards and birds of all sorts.
Reporters get unique access to unique situations. And I’ve got to say, it’s the perfect job for a perpetual learner. Because, more often than not, when I’m out on an assignment, I’m just as excited to be there as the people who have chosen to be there for fun.
Take next week, for example. The Winter Outdoor Wildlife Expo (WOWE) is once again coming to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center (BNC). It’s a 5-day long event filled with educational seminars, guided bird walks, cooking and fishing demonstrations, hands-on exhibits and, of course, live raptor shows with Jonathan Wood.
I’ve had the good fortune to cover WOWE for the paper for the past couple of years, and I never tire of it. I love seeing Jonathan Wood wow crowds with his collection of owls and hawks and eagles and vultures.
And I love seeing all the birdwatchers meander their way across the scenic boardwalks behind the BNC. If I’m lucky, I get to see someone spot a bird on their life list for the very first time.
One year, as I sat in a seminar upstairs, I got to join in with the rest of the audience to learn how to distinguish what kinds of animals have traversed the terrain based solely on the tracks they leave behind.
And last year, I got to hear the quiet chirps of a young alligator calling out for its mother during a presentation by staff from the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, which borders our lovely bayside communities. I never knew alligators could sound so cute.
Earlier this week, I got a chance to speak to the BNC’s naturalist, Javi Gonzalez. We spoke about how the preparations for this year’s WOWE were going. And when I asked him to describe WOWE in a nutshell, he said something that immediately struck a chord with me. He said it really does take all five days to soak in all the information and all the experiences WOWE has to offer.
And it’s true. For all the years I’ve had the privilege of reporting on WOWE, there is still SO MUCH I haven’t had a chance to see for myself yet. So much I still haven’t had a chance to learn.
And so, as I prepare to cover yet another year of WOWE, I’m looking forward to being wowed. If you attend, I guarantee you will be, too.
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