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Published: Monday, August 9, 2010, 12:01 a.m.

Kestrel Skyhawk, education director for the Sarvey Wildlife Center

  • Kestrel Skyhawk, the education director at the Sarvey Wildlife Center, holds a red-tailed hawk the center uses in educational presentations.

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Kestrel Skyhawk, the education director at the Sarvey Wildlife Center, holds a red-tailed hawk the center uses in educational presentations.

Q: How did your name direct your career path?
I'm not sure it really did. I actually am more closely connected in my feelings to cats more than birds. My two favorite animals are the golden eagle and the bobcat. I have connections to birds, though, as a handler of the golden eagle here at the center.
Actually, a kestrel is a type of falcon, so technically my name should be "skyfalcon" not "skyhawk."
And of all the birds of prey, the golden eagle has my heart and is also something I admire a lot. People think eagles and they think mean and aggressive, but they actually have a tender, gentle, vulnerable side.
Q: Would you change your name if you could, and why or why not?
Actually, when I got married I did take my husband's name, but then I changed it back. I don't want to tell you his name. That's a secret. I've got to have a couple.
So I would not change my name.
Q: If you could choose another career, what would it be?
Nope, I'm in it. I've been doing this for almost 30 years. I've been at Sarvey for 22 years, and another similar place to Sarvey for seven years, so I must like it. Even though I'm staff and I'm a director, I did not want to take a salary, so I don't take one. Nope. I do not want one (another career).
Q: How do you know when someone has picked up on the fact that your name is an aptonym?
I know usually right away. When I do a program, I open it with, "Hi, my name is Kestrel Skyhawk and yes, that is my real name and no, my parents were not hippies." Not that there's anything wrong with hippies. And then I say, "Now that we got that out of the way…" and I go on with the program.
Sometimes if I'm at a school, I'll ask the kids, "Do you know what a hippie is?" and a few hands go up and they say some clever things.
Q: How do people react to the combination of your name and job? Do they get it? Any funny stories as a result?
Sometimes they think I'm making it up so then I have to whip out the license. I'm not full blood, but I do have native in me so I sometimes know the thing they are going to ask about.
There was one time this lady was really scrutinizing my face, looking at my cheekbones and this and that, like doing some forensic anatomy, and I finally had to ask her, "Did I pass the test?" But I have to be friendly when I'm out representing Sarvey, and so I'm not antagonistic with people.
People do ask if I changed my name and then I ask them, "What do you think?" Because really if I could pick a name I would have probably picked Lynx or Bobcat or something wild like that.
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