2014 REHAB VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: STEF POCIASK
True story. When we started our re-nesting program this past spring, Stef was on a mission. He decided that he was going to build replacement nests better than the hawk parents could themselves. He came to CRC one afternoon, disappeared into the forest with no tools and no plan, and emerged three hours later with his masterpiece. It was beautiful. And he went on to make many more nests. The re-nesting program would not have been as successful without him. No doubt.
Stef is a thinker. He is extremely observant. He is constantly looking for ways to improve things. His career is in research and design, so it is only natural for him to push the boundaries. He has provided a lot of input into our operations that has proven to be useful in making needed changes.
The birds, and us, are very lucky to have him.
Here are some fun facts provided by the man himself:
When did you start: December 2011
How did you get interested in CRC: I’ve been a Wildlife Research Volunteer for over ten years, specializing in Endangered Species. When I moved to NC, I looked for a worthy wildlife project to apply my passion to. As luck would have it, CRC happened to be only 3 miles from my house. Once I researched what CRC was all about, it was really a no-brainer. I couldn’t imagine a more exciting and worthwhile organization to devote my time to.
What do you do at CRC: My main responsibility is feeding nocturnals and treating patients on Wednesday nights. But I’m a problem solver by nature (and by occupation), so I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to make things easier, or to enrich the lives of the birds entrusted to our care.
Best part of being a volunteer at CRC: The patience the staff has shown me, regarding my multitude of hare-brained schemes, and the wide latitude they’ve given me in trying new things. And, of course, the indescribable satisfaction we all get when a raptor that was once on death’s door finally gets released again to live a full life in the wild. It’s very emotional.
If you were reincarnated as a raptor, which one would you be and why: The answer is the Osprey. Ospreys are the master fishermen of the raptor world. For some reason, they remind me of my uncle Ronnie, who was also a master fisherman and outdoorsman. He played a large part in raising me, and is the one who instilled a love of all wildlife into me at a young age. I feel closer to him when I work with Ospreys. I know that’s what he would be if he were reincarnated as a raptor.
Favorite raptor memory: Last spring I was given a Red Tailed Hawk to release. I found the perfect meadow and woods, but within seconds of releasing him, he was attacked by a large murder of crows. He put up a good fight, but they were relentless and I was very worried for his safety. But ten minutes later, a second Red Tail came from an adjoining forest and joined the fight. The two hawks fought literally side by side for twenty minutes, and the tide turned. The aerial maneuvers of this dogfight were incredible to watch, and I felt so fortunate to be able to witness this amazing scene. When the battle was over, the two hawks flew off together. My respect for the emotions these birds possess reached a whole new level that day. I’ll never forget it.
One word to describe you: Passionate.
Tell me something remarkable that you have done in your life: Having had the good fortune to be among the first to work with wild jaguars in Southern Arizona, and working toward reestablishing a population that has gone extinct in our country over a hundred years ago.