2014 has been one incredible year! To be completely honest, it has flown by so fast that I can’t even believe it’s almost the New Year. I decided to put together a few of my favorite photos and do a “2014 recap.” Although starting this task, it became incredibly hard and unrealistic to include all of my 3,000 plus photos on my phone. So, I decided to narrow them down and pick out my favorite photos and memories month by month. Hope you all enjoy and have a fantastic 2015!
I always look forward to the month of January. It’s the beginning of a new year, new opportunities, and-in the case of my family- new animals! What stuck out most in my mind was the new addition to our family; Winslow the cow. Yes I said it, we have a pet cow. A lot of people often ask why we have a pet cow. It started simply with my sister’s fascination of a lone cow she would pass everyday on the way to work. She soon got attached and nicknamed the cow “Kathy.” (I can’t tell you how many Snap Chat photo’s I would receive of Kathy on a daily basis!) Months went by and Kathy grew larger and larger. One week before Christmas, Kathy disappeared. I’d like to think Kathy went away to a new farm…My sister was heart broken so on Christmas Eve we surprised her with a week old calf she named Winslow. The rest is history.
Winter out here in the Snake River Valley region is absolutely spectacular. Frost covers the tress and blankets of snow cover the river banks, while the river literally steams. The majority of the animals are in indoor facilities with an exception of a few, like Napoleon the emu. My cousin, who is a professional photographer, happened to capture one of my favorite pictures of Napoleon. (He even won first prize in a photo competition!) February also takes me back to the bittersweet end of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” The day after Jay’s finale show, which included a handful of celebrities like Oprah, I received a call from one of Jay’s head writers and producer who discovered me at 14. It was so surreal. Ten years had passed since my first appearance on “The Tonight Show” and I finally had the opportunity to sincerely thank the producer for the start of my television career with animals. That first booking led to several other appearances, and then on to other shows like “The Today Show” and “The Martha Stewart Show.” I’m forever grateful.
In March we saw the return of an early spring! The animals (the tortoises in particular) were thrilled to explore their outdoor habitats in the sunshine. It also marked the beginning of the process of editing my Africa footage. I was thrilled to relive the moments in the Masai Mara and work one-on-one with my long time editor in the process. We ended up completing “Through the Eyes of a Vulture”, a documentary about the plight of East Africa’s declining vulture populations http://youtu.be/HB-0vq8BN_c
In April, we turned a complete 360 from reliving the plains of East Africa, to visiting one of the busiest places on earth; New York City. It was a busy press month with appearances on “The Today Show”, CBS’s “The Couch”, and Boise’s Mix 106. It was also great bringing family along for the journey. Hands-down my favorite trip so far to New York.
May is one of my favorite months. It’s a time when the majority of our animals move to their outdoor habitats. It’s also a time when I start designing new exhibits and projects for the upcoming summer. There is also nothing like a spring thunderstorm!
Sometimes it’s so hard for me to comprehend how a little boy from Robie Creek, Idaho made it all the way to New York City, to sit across from a TV icon like Kathie Lee Gifford. It makes all the years of volunteering, spending hours on local television, and going to school worthwhile. This appearance on “The Today Show” was also a something I’d never done before; appearing without animals. Instead, I was a “TODAY” expert, helping viewers with wildlife trivia.
July. My favorite month! The weather is fantastic, the animals are all enjoying the sunshine, floating the river becomes a weekly ritual, and the grill is always on. I also passed an important milestone in my life, turning 25. With age I even realized a new passion; radio. Luckily, Boise’s number one morning show “Mike and Kate in the Morning” was the perfect outlet, and they were always eager to let me co-host and fill in for the day.
One of my favorite parts of August is knowing that at some point I’ll be visiting family and friends in St. Louis. It’s been a tradition for years and I’m always up for a road trip It also turned out to be a very busy press month, with appearances on “The Today Show” and local St. Louis affiliate stations.
We were very lucky this year to have an Indian summer. All throughout the month on September, the animals enjoyed an extended amount of time outside. (Normally, we begin housing them indoors because of the cooler weather.) One of my favorite memories is Winslow escaping from the pasture to join the tortoises grazing!
Fall is probably one of my favorite seasons. We begin to move the animals indoors and I generally wrap up any projects before the upcoming winter. This was not the case for October! I decided to design and build a bridge specifically over the creek for Napoleon the emu! I have to be the only person in the world who has ever attempted this! Even though the project wasn’t necessary (Napoleon’s habitat is plenty big enough), I’m always thinking of new ways to enrich the lives of the animals. Napoleon is already curious by nature. What better way to spark his curiosity than extend his habitat over the creek to a new grassy meadow! October was also full of numerous Halloween themed guest spots on “Mike and Kate in the Morning.” My favorite had to be the trip to the Haunted World!
By November, the bridge was almost completed and I was gearing up for one of my favorite holidays; Thanksgiving. Every year we create elaborate diets for the animals and this year was no exception! What was unusual about this November, was the early winter weather we received. Snow hit hard and the temperatures dropped to all-time lows. It also marked my first appearance on Inside Edition where I gave my opinion on Discovery Channel’s “Eaten Alive.”
The month of December was eventful. Tinkerbelle the tortoise laid her eggs, Napoleon began the process of crossing the bridge, and I did my annual appearances with Prancer the reindeer.
As I look back on 2014, I can’t help but think how fast time flies. It was such an incredible year and I can’t wait for 2015!
Happy New Years everyone!