As I photographed a cooperative coyote, Melissa approached. She had never in her life seen a coyote before. We watched together. She was very quiet, so I told her what I knew: basically that they were not aggressive unless chased by dogs, that they just went about their lives as we do. I asked her if she was in high school, and she said yes, Mission High School. I asked her if she liked the school. She did. I asked her if her courses were interesting, and she again said yes. I asked her what she was interested in and she immediately said animals! She asked if the coyote had a family and I told her probably so, but they were not in this spot at this time. Ah, I remembered my own interest in animals in high school, and why I did not pursue this.
So I told her of my own interest in animals, especially my interest in animal behavior, and specifically that of dolphins when I was her age. BUT, I told her that in biology class, we had to dissect a live fish, and I could not do it. Frogs would be next, so this was the end of my career in biology. Melissa told me that she could not dissect live animals either, no matter that they didn’t know what was going on. So I told her that nowadays, she could still study animals without going the biology route — possibly animal behavior, ecology or animal psychology. She seemed interested. She was quiet, but wide-eyed. I hope her coyote encounter and chat with me were doors that opened new possibilities for her. Good luck to Melissa!