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