One “Wild” and Worthwhile Weekend

About a
week ago I joined a MWW staffer on a trip to the
Busch Gardens theme park with CritterCam,
part of National Geographic’s remote imaging division. “Critter Cams” are
tiny
video cameras that are deployed on animals to help uncover scientific
“mysteries.” CritterCam was
at Busch Gardens as part of “Wild Days,” a special
event promoting awareness and conservation of
animals from around the globe.


When we
returned, my supervisor (Who I prefer to call “Boss-Lady”) asked me to share my
reactions about Wild Days, and the success of the CritterCam exhibit. After
thinking long and hard about what I truly thought of the event, I came up with
two main points:


1) In
terms of effectiveness, I think CritterCam was able to do a great job getting
parents, kids, teachers, etc. excited about the sort of work it does. Kids had
tons of questions and loved learning about the cameras.
Of course, the
big lure could have been the cute and cuddly, live penguins that were stationed
right next door to our tent, [up for the weekend from Seaworld] (seriously, people LOVE penguins) but once
people were drawn in to our general vicinity, there seemed to be a great deal
of genuine interest in the National Geographic information.

2) I think there is a lot of potential for the My Wonderful World campaign to
participate in the Wild Days outreach event in the future because there are
natural connections among education about geography, world animals,
environments, and conservation.


But once
I got these points down, I still felt as though there was something missing.
Finally it came to me: “
The other reaction that I have from working Wild
Days was that it was hotter than blazes!!!”

That’s right folks, it felt as though someone had jokingly thrown me in a steam room, locked
the door, tossed the key, and then forgotten to let me out. And that wasn’t the
first time that I’d noticed the uncontrollable heat and humidity since coming
here to Washington, D.C. I’d say the biggest challenge to being an intern here
at National Geographic has been getting used to this horrendous East Coast
humidity
! I grew up and go to school out west (California), so these past three weeks have
been one big lesson for me in geographic and environmental diversity.


Talk
about the significance of Geography! I didn’t even realize it rained here
during the summer. When I verbalized this new discovery to my East Coast
co-workers, they were equally surprised to find out that it NEVER rains where
I’m from during the summer months. I think probably the best way to sum it up
would be to say that it’s all about choice: you either bake on the West Coast,
or steam on the East Coast. Either way, it seems inevitable that by the end of
this summer I’m going to be cooked to a crisp.


We can
take this examination of geographic and environmental difference one step
further by considering just how it has affected me as a person. Have I changed?
Well, the short answer to this is I haven’t—I’m still the same weird, short
pant, lunch-pale carrying guy that I was last year and the year before. Yet,
even though I may have not changed as a person, my habits have undoubtedly
changed. Rain used to be one of the cold, dark signs that I associated with the
oncoming winter season. It made me want to stay inside, make a cup of tea,
watch a movie, and go to bed. Now, rain provides a blessed break from this incessant
humidity. I find myself stashing my swim trunks in my bag in the morning, in
the hopes that it will pour later in the day and I’ll get a chance to go out,
splash around in the puddles, and get soaked from head to toe.


So in a
sense, I suppose this change in scenery HAS changed my perspectives on and
feelings towards certain things. See guys, Geography matters! Have a great day
(and if you live in a place where it rains be sure to pack a swimsuit in your
pack).

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