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Wildlife Vocalizations: Anna Brose
Anna Brose shares the excitement and enthusiasm that pushes her past the road bumps she may encounter
Wildlife Vocalizations is a collection of short personal perspectives from people in the field of wildlife sciences.
I’ve never been a morning person. I’m that person with seven alarms set every morning, and the snooze button is my MVP. So when I volunteered for a week of small mammal trapping in Denali National Park and learned our first trap check each day was at 6 a.m., I had some concerns. Anxious about oversleeping and turning into a bear’s midnight snack, I hunkered down in my sleeping bag the first night clutching my battery-powered alarm clock in one hand and a can of bear spray in the other.
My alarm went off at 5 a.m. the next morning accompanied by the percussion of steady rain on my tent. But— miracle of all miracles! —I was out of my sleeping bag without hitting snooze once, an unheard-of occurrence to my teenage self.
Boots, rain gear, headlamp and fanny pack in place, we set off into a soggy morning to check our Sherman traps. That soggy morning turned into a soggy week—day after day of drizzle and downpour. We caught, tagged and released voles, shrews and squirrels, got followed by an amorous moose and played endless rounds of cards under the tarp that served as our kitchen.
Find the thing that gives you that sense of eager enthusiasm, that zeal to pull on your boots (literally or metaphorically) and go at it with everything you’ve got.
As our final day of trapping dawned, I realized I had gone the whole week without hitting snooze. Despite not being properly dry in a week, I woke up every morning excited to climb out of my tent and check my traps. Out there in the wilderness of Denali, collecting data and learning about vole population dynamics, the anxiety that kept me up at night disappeared. The depression that made it impossible for me to get out of bed in the morning faded to background noise. This—this—was what I was meant to be doing. I had purpose and clarity, enthusiasm and passion. I had always known I wanted to work with animals, but in that moment I knew—wildlife biology was my future.
Lack of funding, outright sexism and an ongoing personal struggle with anxiety and depression have made for a winding and bumpy road. I still hit snooze an embarrassing number of times most days. But when the going gets tough and I’m stuck at my desk reading papers or wading through data, I think back to how excited I was to leave the warmth and dry of my sleeping bag to slosh through bogs looking for voles.
Find the thing that gives you that sense of eager enthusiasm, that zeal to pull on your boots (literally or metaphorically) and go at it with everything you’ve got. As Leslie Knope would say, “The best prize in life is to work hard at work worth doing…Now go find your team and get to work.”
Learn more about Wildlife Vocalizations, and read other contributions.
Submit your story for Wildlife Vocalizations or nominate your peers and colleagues to encourage them to share their story.
For questions, please contact Jamila Blake.