Sophie teaches two young children in a classroom.

Continuing to Learn Outside the Classroom

As someone who has always loved learning, one of the aspects of post-undergrad life that I was most hesitant about was that I wouldn’t have the chance to learn. I thought this was just one of life’s given facts—learning happens in school. But, on my first day with Audubon Mid-Atlantic, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this isn’t the case, at least not here.

I had a pretty clear path in mind for myself when I started college: teach people about environmental issues. Although I thought about the environment on a daily basis and took almost all classes that had to do with climate and the environment, birds were not a topic that often came up. I had always been passionate about animals, but birds were not especially high on my list of favorites. Then, I got a job working for Audubon Mid-Atlantic, the Mid-Atlantic Region of the National Audubon Society.

I haven’t stopped learning and don’t plan on it anytime soon.

The National Audubon Society’s mission is to protect birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Working for an organization that focuses on birds, I knew that I would have my work cut out for me. There is a saying “those who cannot do, teach.” I personally believe this saying is complete nonsense–in fact, in order to teach about a concept, one has to have a much deeper understanding. Because of that, I knew I had a lot to learn from my start date in July in order to teach students about birds starting in October.

If you thought that four months would be enough time to learn about birds, you would be completely wrong. As soon as I started to research, read articles, and practice my binocular skills, I couldn’t get enough of birds. At the center where I work, there are over 145 different species of birds that visit over the course of a year. This means that just to teach about birds at my center at an in-depth level, I have to learn how to identify them based on sound and sight as well as their behaviors. Then, there is the more general concepts of migration and adaptation. Who would have known there would be so much to learn about one animal!

I haven’t stopped learning and don’t plan on it anytime soon. I now have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road when I spot a bird while driving and get the itch to identify it. I have a hard time going for a walk without bringing my trusty binoculars with me or whipping out my phone for a quick sound identification of a bird call. And best of all, I get to share this newfound passion with my students, friends, and family, while I continue to learn about birds every day.

Sophie Becker-Klein

Sophie Becker-Klein

Sophie Becker-Klein (she/her) is FAO Schwarz Fellow at Audubon Mid-Atlantic's Discovery Center in Philadelphia.