Four years ago, former human resources director, Kristi Jolliffe, began rescuing birds, and to this day she can't quite bring herself to fly the coup.
In fact, the Laguna Niguel resident has spent endless hours volunteering her time saving injured and sick birds.
For example, in July and August, she was called on to help gather a large number of birds to be tested for suspected avian botulism at Laguna Niguel Lake. It was later confirmed more than 50 tested positive.
“I didn't know at the time I started volunteering how much it costs each year to do the type of volunteering I do," said Jolliffee, who makes no money for her efforts. "Nor, did I understand the emotional attachment."
Her volunteering includes O.C. Harbor, Beaches and Parks, Adopt-a-Park program, and the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach; however, she has yet to volunteer at the facility because she is always in the field.
“I generally deal with rescuing injured waterfowl and most often botulism outbreaks. There are few people that are even aware of what wildlife issues occur at every lake, local pond and throughout the waterways that run through our cities to Newport’s Back Bay and out to the ocean," she explained. "In my experience within Orange County, the lakes are generally comprised of run-off water from many sources with little or no fresh water filtering in. Community ponds are not always designed properly to keep water moving giving it fresh oxygen to provide a balanced Eco system.
“They look great but for migratory birds they can be death traps. In my opinion most botulism outbreaks are caused by human error; especially in controlled areas such as a county park/lake or community pond. This type of volunteering can take over your life because the need for general wildlife rescue never stops,” she said.
Of course, being unemployed since 2006 has taken its toll on Jolliffe. She worked for a decade at the company that let her go which provides embedded wireless networking and connectivity products to original equipment manufactures for machine-to-machine communication applications. The company's wireless products are used by major OEMs in the transportation, instrumentation and industrial control, homeland security, medical diagnostics, and logistics markets to provide remote data collection and control, she said.
"I knew a year in advance the company I worked for was going to be sold. Fortunately, I budgeted well. I planned to take three years off to travel and spend more time with my family who live out of state," she said.
However, her volunteering has derailed her when it comes to a career search.
"I have the most difficult time saying ‘no’ when I receive a call regarding an injured or sick animal. I was on a short vacation, and during that vacation I told several family and friends ‘when I returned home I am no longer going to volunteer. I am going to find a full-time career.’ "
She received a call the day after returning and found herself at Laguna Niguel Lake due to the botulism outbreak.
"In a 2009 botulism outbreak, I volunteered from dawn to dusk for 67 days straight before the outbreak was controlled,” she said. "The best part of what I do is saving or rescuing an injured or sick animal. But, financially, it is time to get back to my career which I love doing, too."