Have you ever thought about your dream job? A job where every day you get to make a difference in people’s lives, all while helping the world around you? When you hear John Schaust talk about his role as Chief Naturalist at Wild Birds Unlimited, that’s exactly what you take away from the conversation. John gets to work for a company that invests in their passion, to bring the worlds of humans and nature together.
Part of John’s role is to scour all the scientific materials available to find data that provides meaningful information that can be shared with Wild Birds Unlimited franchisees, their employees and ultimately the customer. That’s why John and his team spend their days learning everything they can about the value of feeding birds in the wild. Recently, John came across a study conducted by Milliken University that really grabbed his attention. Milliken conducted a three-year study on more than 100 species of birds and proved that supplemental food sources create a healthier and happier existence for the birds.
For a person who has studied birds his whole adult life, the question was why this study is so important. “When the Milliken study came out it was eye-opening and reaffirming. I want the owners to be aware of new knowledge and our impact to the birds and the environments.”
One common question people have when feeding wild animals, in general, is whether or not feeding them will lead them to become dependent on humans for their food source. The Milliken study showed there are no ill effects of humans providing a source of nutrition for wild birds. Even when the bird feeders were prevalent, the birds only used them for a small percentage of their overall nutrition.
Knowing that people are doing a great deed is rewarding, but for the estimated 50 million people that buy bird seed to feed birds every year, it’s also helpful to them. There have been a rash of studies recently talking about the need for humans’ connection with nature. In today’s tech and digital world, it’s becoming more difficult for people to have that relationship with nature. This connection is important for many reasons, but as John puts it, “having an interest in nature creates a relationship with nature, which then leads to a caring for nature and, as a result, more concern about the world around us.”
For John, seeing the impact that a relationship with nature can have on people was also personal. When his father grew older, John set up a number of feeders in his backyard for his father to enjoy. These feeders provided hours of entertainment for his father, but also allowed a father and son to share time talking and bonding over a hobby.
Before John began working for Wild Birds Unlimited, he spent 26 years working at nature centers around the United States. But with as much impact as he had at those centers, he knows he is providing greater value bringing people and nature together by working with more than 300 stores in the Wild Birds Unlimited family.
With locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores. Recently ranked No. 2 overall and No. 1 in the Retail category on Franchise Business Review’s prestigious 2018 Franchisee Satisfaction Awards, there's no better time to join the Wild Birds Unlimited team. Click here to learn more.