As Patrick Burns is fond of saying, "The kids are alright."
Happily I know a few who are more than alright. Our campus is full of bright young people, and heralding their accomplishments is one pleasure of my job.
But we encounter some rare souls who, like Steve and his blog partners (and our readers), are moved by strong passions, big themes, strange places and real people; who not only listen to other drummers but follow ancient rhythms to their source.
Lauren McGough is such a one. Steve has been keeping us up to date on Lauren's travels and adventures in these and other posts and happily hosting her visits as she passes through the little hamlet of Magdalena, New Mexico.
We learned today (HT Annie Hocker) that Lauren, an Honors major in zoology and international studies at the University of Oklahoma, has received a Fulbright Scholarship and will use it to return to Mongolia's western province of Bayan-Olgii to resume her apprenticeship with the eaglers. She writes:
"As a falconer and aspiring ornithologist, preservation of the sport and the birds that make falconry possible is very important to me," she said. "I can't think of a better place than Mongolia, with all its unique wildlife, and arguably the very birthplace of falconry, to better understand human-animal relationships and effective conservation."
I hope Steve will chime in here with a good Lauren story. I've met her only once, but in that way you can recognize special people almost instantly, she stood out. We talked for a while after evening presentations at the last national falconers' meet. Her excitement to be there, around so many like-minded fanatics and fabulous birds, was clear. And yet she would not be intimidated; she has been around the world and our kind and seen things most of us have only read about.
She will surpass us and travel on to some unique destination in life. That much I know.
Steve here. Lauren first came to us with a request to go to Mongolia when she was seventeen. She was a falconer, self- assured, and her father was confident. I knew Canat in Mongolia would treat her as his own daughter, so we "sent" her into the wilds of western Mongolia in deep winter to spend a month with the eagle hunters. She loved it. You have seen some of her photos.
After she was back she was staying with us. She was too young to go to the Golden Spur so I asked her if she took wine with dinner. She replied "I don't know-- I only drank vodka with the eagle hunters." A baptism of fire!
She later attended the eagle meets at Opocno in the Czech Republic, and spent a whole season flying eagles at blue hares in the hills of Scotland. She has also visited hunting cheetahs in Spain.
There are a lot of egos involved with eagles in the west, but Lauren is the real thing, plus a lady and a scholar. She will now become the first female berkutchi. And who knows what next?
We are proud of you, Lauren!
PS: Lauren's Blog here and at left in the rolls for future reference.