Jo Santiago, creator of Flying Higher, has been providing professional educational presentations with birds of prey since 1989. Over the years, her educational effort has reached both urban and rural audiences in 13 states from Washington, DC to Denver, CO, with an audience of over 170,000 people. For over 20 years, Jo worked as a researcher, wildlife biologist, and naturalist for the Federal Government in the East, Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains.
As a Hispanic woman who grew up in Spanish Harlem in New York City, Jo understands the challenges and obstacles that must be overcome to follow one's dreams and realize one's goals that apply to everyone from urban to rural areas and from the elementary school room to the corporate boardroom. Through Flying Higher, Jo uses her life experiences and 28 years of dedication to the rescue and rehabilitation of injured or ill birds of prey to inspire and motivate youth and adults alike to follow their passion and live their dream.
A lively and highly engaging speaker, Jo offers unique, captivating, and inspiring programs and training customized to meet the goals of her clients. Whether the client’s goal is to primarily educate, entertain, or motivate, Flying Higher delivers an enjoyable experience and a refreshing change from the norm that draws and holds the audience’s interest.
The real teaching staff of Flying Higher are permanently injured non-releasable raptors that could not survive in the wild. Jo, in fact, serves as their interpreter, caretaker, and chauffeur. These birds, some of which can live up to 30 years, have found a permanent home with Jo in the mountains of West Virginia. The experience of actually living with birds of prey on a daily basis for nearly 3 decades has given Jo extensive insight to their individual personalities, behaviors, needs, idiosyncrasies, and body language remarkably like our own. They have much to teach us. In learning about them, we learn about ourselves.
Each raptor is provided with its own “mew,” which is the term for housing built specifically for birds of prey, customized to meet the particular needs of each bird. Our mews are connected indoor and outdoor facilities, so each bird can come indoors or go outdoors at will. Jo is committed to providing each resident bird with the highest quality of care in a private and peaceful forest setting that is the next best thing to being free. Please note that the housing facility is not open to the public.