Meet the Staff: Libby, Special Projects
Hi! I decided this week would be a great opportunity to formally introduce myself. (Actually, my computer did, as it decided to heave its last breath and grossly limit my blogging capabilities, but that’s being worked on as we speak!) I’m the newest member of the team here at Harrison House/Tucker House, and my official capacity is “special projects.” Essentially, I handle the blogging and a lot of the social media, and I’m always eager to lend a hand wherever I can in other areas. I am so grateful for the chance to work with such a great group of folks, and to be paid just for doing something I already love to do (that journalism degree finally came in handy)!
My name is Libby, and I am a Floridian. (That sounds like the beginning of a support group of some kind.) This characteristic has been attached to me ever since I first started coming to San Juan Island in the summer of 2010. I am used to a vastly different climate – we Floridians have thin blood, and anything below 70 degrees tends to be a bit uncomfortable for us. I didn’t think it would be too bad, as the San Juans enjoy a temperate climate compared to the rest of the state, with 1/3 of the rain enjoyed by Seattle and about as many sunny days as Florida. Of course, I would have put up with most any weather for the chance to spend my summers with my life’s passion.
Orcas have been my calling since I was a young child. I’ve always been utterly fascinated with them, and thought they were the most beautiful things to roam the planet. I’ve always felt a fierce need to protect them and do whatever I could to conserve them. They fill my heart like nothing else can – it’s a rare thing, to know what you want to do with your life from such a young age. My parents took me to this area when I was only 12 to see wild orcas, and from that day forward, that was it. They chose me.
So to that end, I began coming here and bugging anyone who would listen to give me a job as a naturalist. That is simply a person well-educated on marine life who informs and educates guests aboard whale-watching cruises. I owe Captain Jim Maya everything, because he saw past the crazy person in me and recognized someone who truly loved the whales, like he did. He gave me an internship on his boat that, after several failed attempts and heartbreaks, finally led to a paying naturalist position this past summer with San Juan Excursions, here in Friday Harbor. I got to spend the whole summer being paid to cruise around the San Juans and share my love for whales with eager guests who actually wanted to hear me talk about them. And of course, I got to see wild orcas or other wildlife almost every day. It was never work. Each day brought more and more personal fulfillment, and when a guest would tell me that they really enjoyed my talk or that I’d made them think differently about how to treat animals or the environment, the joy I felt could have carried me all the way home. Truly, this is what I was put here to do.
The magic of this summer, combined with meeting my boyfriend Joe, was the catalyst I needed to leave behind a rather un-fulfilling and unhappy life in Florida. Much as the pain of being away from my family and friends colors my daily life, I am proud of myself for leaving the security of Florida and branching out to start a new chapter in my life. I must be meant to be here, because I was so fortunate to find such great winter work here with Tucker House that utilizes my other passion in life, writing. I can’t wait to grow with the team here!
The other major experience of my life that has created the person I am was the five years I spent as a member of my college marching band. My alma mater is the University of South Florida in Tampa, and I played piccolo in the Herd of Thunder marching band. (Look us up on YouTube!) Not only was it about the most fun I’ve ever had – you can’t beat the feeling of standing at attention under stadium lights while 70,000 people wait to watch you perform – but it turned me into a totally different person. I attribute my outgoing, friendly, confident personality almost entirely to band. Being a part of a group that is all working toward the same goal, and feeling like part of a family because of all the time we spent together, instilled in me an inner strength and self-sufficiency that I rely on daily. It also led me to the dearest friends anyone could ask for, without whose support I never would have had the guts to pick up and leave Florida for good. I highly recommend being part of a musical ensemble for anyone. It will help improve self-confidence and sharpen critical thinking skills, too!
So that’s quite enough about me! I’ve really enjoyed giving you a peek into who I am, and I look forward to blogging for you for a long time to come. Please feel free to send me an email anytime (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your comments, thoughts or ideas! Stay tuned for more “meet the staff” blogs!