Days may go by when my calendar reflects only meetings and other responsibilities that keep me indoors, so I relish those days when the job takes me outdoors. Almost immediately, I notice the difference: my mood lifts, my shoulders relax, I breathe more deeply, and I simply feel better. According to a study released last month, I’m not alone in appreciating the outdoors. Nearly 75 percent of adults agree that getting into nature is important for one’s physical health and emotional outlook.
Such was the case during this year’s opening day of trout season at Bennett Spring State Park. Being a part of opening day is definitely a perk of the job, but the pinnacle of this day was the release of a rehabilitated immature bald eagle. This gorgeous young eagle, named Bennett by his caretakers at World Bird Sanctuary (WBS), had been hit by a vehicle, but was now ready to return to the wild.
WBS staff instructed me on how to hold this majestic raptor so that both of us survived the release uninjured. I held Bennett snuggly against me, my arms cradling his wings, and my hands securing his legs so that he could not use his talons against me. My heart was racing, as I’m sure his was as well. As the crowd counted down, I launched him up and out to freedom.
Bennett has stayed close to the park, given its steady supply of trout. He’s not alone. The area is so attractive to birds it is included in the Great Missouri Birding Trail, an online resource that identifies the state’s best birding sites (see The Great Missouri Birding Trail Takes Flight).
I recognize we can’t all release an eagle to the wild, but we can all experience the positive effects of time outdoors. Our Missouri outdoors is calling, ready and willing to reinvigorate and inspire us. So let’s turn off the devices, my friends, and head to healing waters.
—Sara Parker Pauley, director
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler