Meet Volunteer Clark Schultz

The people who work and volunteer for this team are passionate enough about Whooping cranes to be away from family and friends for months at a time. There are not that many people who have the freedom to do that year after year. The open ended finish date is the most difficult to deal with so this past spring I asked for volunteers who could dedicate two weeks at a time. Together, we built a schedule so that six volunteers will give us a total of 12 weeks of coverage with hopes that the migration is over by mid December.

Ontario native, Clark Schultz is our first volunteer this season. If he is any indication of what we can expect, this recruitment has been a big success, Clark is accommodating, eager to help and truly interested in the birds. After a long career as a teacher, he has a working knowledge of just about everything. I hope Clark will consider joining us again next year.

Guest Author: Clark Schultz

The people who work and volunteer for OM are a special breed who leave families and friends behind because they believe strongly in a cause. It is hard to find that kind of dedication.

As a first time volunteer with Operation Migration, my time here has been one of new experiences. I have had the chance to work on ultralight aircraft, assisting in taking apart a wing so it could be stored away, changing shock absorbers on a trike and helping to winterize two others. For the first time in twenty-five years, the time since my children were infants, I have been getting up at at 5:00 am. A time that is HEAVY EARLY, to borrow a phrase from the character Dr. Johnny Fever in the old sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.

I have had the chance to meet a number of “Craniacs” – friendly, dedicated and generous people who will drive for hours just to have the opportunity to see these chicks flyover. They are quick to offer their help (thanks Brian), the use of their private property as a wintering site (thanks Martin) and their time to watch over the DAR cranes at Horicon until they migrate (thanks Gary we are saddened by your passing).

I have been able to walk among this year’s cohort of Whooping crane chicks, and act in costume as one of their parents, a truly unforgettable experience.

As a teacher and parent I have always worried that our children spend too much time in a virtual world and that they might have lost touch with the wonders of the natural world around them. When I was teaching and had my class in the computer lab, some would finish their work a bit before the end of a class and would ask if they could play games. My response was that they could if the games didn’t involve annihilating zombies or any other blood, guts and gore. I have learned in my time here that young people who spend part of their free time ridding the video world of zombies also devote their time to the saving of endangered species. Perhaps zapping zombies is just an early sign that our youth have a desire to make the world a better place.

I have been reading this summer a number of books by the explorer Commodore Robert E. Byrd, a pioneer of aviation. He was instrumental in the development of many of the early instruments used by airplane pilots and was a champion of what was then a new and untrusted method of travel. He was also a pioneer who organized a number of expeditions into what was then an unknown frontier, the Arctic and Antarctic.

In his books he writes about the struggles that must be overcome in mounting any expedition, raising the funds needed, obtaining and maintaining the necessary equipment, obtaining the required permission from the many levels of government that are involved and dealing with the interested press and public.

From what I have observed of Joe Duff, Heather Ray and all the people who make up the staff of Operation Migration, they face these same obstacles and like Commodore Byrd this job takes up a large part of everyday and keeps them from their families for extended periods of time.

It makes me wonder if the Final Frontier isn’t really Space (I admit to watching way too much Star Trek in my youth). Maybe the Final Frontier is actually still here on Earth. maybe the Final Frontier is Wildlife and Habitat Conservation – meeting the task of preserving endangered species, rehabilitating threatened ecosystems and re-creating ones that have been lost.

I hope Conservation is something our society and government devote more resources to and persevere with – making new discoveries means overcoming obstacles and not letting disappointments halt your progress.

I hope that before we head off into outer space; seeking a new world and new civilizations (again way too much time watching Star Trek) that we can honestly say we did all that we could to make this world a better place for all living things. After all, if we can rid the video world of zombies, surely we can follow the example of pioneers like the staff here at OM.

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  1. Bev (BvTOP) October 4, 2014 3:30 pm

    Welcome, Clark and thank you.

  2. Linda (lcives) October 4, 2014 11:47 am

    So well said. Thank you. This is our pray for the future!

  3. Margie Tomlinson October 4, 2014 11:10 am

    Thank you for the great “pep talk”, Clark! & Joe for introducing him to us! Have been looking at the funding gage for some time now & thinking how can we get at least to the half-way mark (50%). If just 10 people gave $100. that would put us there, (or 20 people at $50. or 40 people at $25., etc.,etc.). I’m certainly hoping to give it a boost, as soon as I can. Come on all you Craniacs out there, give a WHOOP or two, or even a Mile, or part of a mile!

    • Maxgreenwing October 5, 2014 8:09 pm

      ok Margie! I’m in. whoop de doo 🙂

  4. Cathy (Clydesfan) October 4, 2014 4:20 am

    Thank you so much for your article Clark. And thank you to you and all of the wonderful people associated with this noble cause. I am not a frequent crier, but the plight of these wonderful birds and all of the effort that you and everyone involved put into helping them tugs at my heart and elicits a few tears more than I would care to admit. I keep you all and the colts in my thoughts and prayers each and every day. Bless you all for all that you do and bless this class of Whoopers as well as the previous classes. <3 <3