A note about me…

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I grew up down the back roads of the rural south in a little spot called Bay Minette, Alabama. I am named after my Grandmother and I act a whole lot like my Mother. Dirt roads, bare feet, swimming holes, sweet tea and old country music are things that come to mind when digging up memories of childhood. There were plenty of sunshiny days and shady oak trees to laze around under. There were also plenty of chores and family members to keep a wild child from getting out of control.

1918716_1272200013267_4263893_n (1)I listened to barred owls on the banks of the Perdido River, built tree forts in the Pine Grove woods and swallowed too much salt water in the cool Gulf waters. I had freedom on my ten-speed bike and my cousins were my best friends. We ate crawfish and jambalaya and caught mullet with a cast net off of the Fairhope pier. I learned about character and integrity and small town accountability – and I have tried to carry those with me into the bigger cities of my adult life. I have since traveled the world and remain perpetually homesick for those sweet and simple days gone by.

My career has been an interesting evolutionary process. It may surprise some folks to know that I started my adult life in the U.S. Army – it made sense to me because my Grandfather was my hero and that’s how he stepped out into the world. I traveled throughout our country and ended up spending a great deal of time in South Korea – wearing the same 8th Army patch as my hero. After growing up in the woods on the Alabama Gulf Coast, the Asian culture was an amazing experience for me. It was there that I discovered ancient theological concepts and truly started to develop a more reverent spiritual place within myself – it was also there that I developed my own perspective on politics and patriotism and a life-long addiction to kimbap, or sushi as the Japanese call it.

After my military enlistment I dove into a career as a licensed veterinary technician and wildlife rehabilitator. From Fort Bragg, NC to Fairhope, AL and out to Kansas City, I had the pleasure of working with countless species of domestic animals, exotics and wildlife – and some of the most amazing and professional caretakers in the veterinary field.

With my innate love for nature, it wasn’t long before I turned my focus entirely toward the health and medical maintenance of wildlife. I took a position as the Hospital Manager for Auburn University’s Raptor Center, and from there I had the honor of working in the Raptor Hospital at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Orlando, FL. About that time I really started to realize that the health of a group of animals is nothing without the health of the ecosystems they occupy. What good is nursing a bald eagle back to health after exposure to an environmental contaminant, if she is only to be released back into the same polluted and toxic environment?

It became more and more important to me to not only to try to heal what was broken, but to also teach others to be more environmentally aware. Education is truly our best hope for creating a healthier planet – for wildlife as well as for you and me and those who haven’t been born yet.

30003_1284553080009_7829590_nBecoming an environmental educator seemed to be just par for the course. It’s not possible to work with such charismatic and awe inspiring animals and NOT eventually want to teach others to nurture their love for nature’s wild things. I left Audubon in 2004 in order to help develop the free-flighted bird of prey program for Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. After nearly 7 years as an animal trainer and wildlife curator for the program, my partners and I came together to found Nature’s Echo – a nonprofit environmental education program based in west-central Georgia. We train non-releasable birds of prey to provide flighted and static bird of prey shows throughout the Southeast.

Today more than any other time in history there is a need for a true conservation effort in our global society. My work in the veterinary field and as a naturalist are both rewarding outlets for learning and teaching about our Natural World – writing is another.

In addition to my work with birds of prey, I am a full time freelancer with a primary focus on our environment, human rights and sustainability. I am currently the Atlanta Outdoors Examiner and Social Media Administrator for the NatureFind network. I also provide copy writing and freelance services. And of course, being attached to the nonprofit sector myself, I have a special soft spot for nonprofit groups and conservation work.

11647359_10204597700608554_1519328817_nI have also been known to milk cows on a dairy farm, play in the mud at my favorite hog farm and help out at nearby farmer’s markets. I believe in community, the local food movement and I believe peace is worth working for. I also believe that it is very important to speak out about the things you believe in. I am married to a man I love deeply and we are working our way through life as best we can.  I have a niece, nephews and step children that I adore, and that I want desperately to help create a healthier world for.

We try to keep the weeds out of our garden, we raise chickens and spend any free time paddling our canoe or pitching our tent in some primitive mountain forest. We play chess, we make art, we listen to good music and we are always trying to become better – at all of it.

11988473_10205005112513597_2449415286443873376_nI’ve learned that life is short, and sometimes hard, so it is most important to do the things you are passionate about, to tell your favorite people that you love them, to count your blessings and to always always be thankful.

Yours in free-thought and deep gratitude,

~ Tauna Jean

May Nature inspire you to do the things you love, to protect the things that are important – and may you inspire others to do the same!


 

Feel free to send me an email with your comments or to inquire about my freelance services: taunajean@live.com. You can view recently published essays & articles at the following links:

And please visit NaturesEcho.org for more information about birds of prey!

 

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