Featured volunteer Alix Morgan started volunteering with PEEC last year. Alix immediately became known as the Critter Whisperer. With care and confidence, she’s been handling our snakes, salamanders, lizards, spiders, and yes…the whip scorpion. We hope you enjoy reading about PEEC’s Critter Whisperer!
PEEC: Tell us about yourself.
A.M.: I was born and raised in White Rock. I do abstract, surreal, anime and cartoon art. I’ve been into art since I was little; it brought me out of my shyness shell. I love animals. We have one dog and three bearded dragons. My parents gave me my first bearded dragon when I was five years old. It lived with us for quite a while, passing away from old age a few years ago. Recently, I got two more bearded dragons for my birthday and adopted a third dragon from a friend.
My mom is legally blind but you’d be amazed how well she gets around on her own. My dad is a retired lab employee and is always out and about hiking, rock/ice climbing. My sister is older than me; finishing her environmental science degree and working at the teen center.
PEEC: How did you get involved with PEEC?
A.M.: I heard about the nature center through Denise Matthews, PEEC’s Play-based Education Specialist. I met her when I worked at her son’s school. I was hoping PEEC needed volunteers when I walked into the nature center. I went in with an open mind, my goal was to check out the animals and hopefully get an opportunity to talk with someone about becoming a volunteer.
PEEC: What are your jobs at PEEC?
A.M.: I work on their critter care team. I’m trained to care for the animals: giving them fresh water, feeding them, cleaning their exhibits. I also hold the animals for visitors to see up close. Handling the animals also customizes them to people, showing them we are friendly humans!
PEEC: What other volunteer work have you done in our community?
A.M.: This is my first volunteer job and I’m really enjoying it.
PEEC: Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?
A.M.: It’s a great way to connect with the community and a fun way to learn new skills. I don’t know where else I would have the opportunity to hold a vinegaroon!
PEEC: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
A.M.: Meeting so many interesting people and I get to do something I love: taking care of animals.
PEEC: How did you become interested in animals?
A.M.: I have always been interested in animals, mostly reptiles. When I was younger I was allergic to all things with fur and feathers. As I mentioned, when I was five my parents got me a bearded dragon. I’ve loved animals since I was tiny.
A.M.: My favorite animal at the nature center is Octavia, the tarantula. Octavia seems to be the sweetest tarantula I have ever met. If you come to the nature center and Octavia is not in her exhibit, shes probably on my shoulder or in my palm. Guests enjoy seeing her up close.
PEEC: In your opinion, what is the most important work PEEC does?
A.M.: Teaching people about New Mexico’s wildlife.
PEEC: What outdoor hobbies do you enjoy?
A.M.: My outdoor hobbies include hiking, rock climbing (when it’s not cold out) and pokemon hunting!
PEEC: Do you have any advice for people interested in volunteering?
A.M.: Just ask. Come in and ask what type of opportunities are available. Have fun. Take a chance.
PEEC: What is on your wish list for PEEC for the next 10 years?
A.M.: For PEEC to continue growing with joyful people.
-If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please email Christa Tyson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by Christa Tyson, PEEC Visitor Services Manager