From Highland Park to Hainesville, the Lake County suburbs are vast and everyone is looking for that parent who’s just like them. This month we’re taking a look “Behind the Trike” and meeting the parents who bring Lake County to you every day. Today we’re meeting Jessica our “Animal Wrangling Mama”
What is the hardest for you in work life balance?
The hardest thing is exactly that: finding the work/life balance. Since our work is at our home, we can never just leave “work.” There is always something to do….something to clean, animals to feed or spend time with, paperwork to complete, phone calls to make, etc. I could literally spend all day and night working on something related to our business. Now that we have a child of our own, though, I make sure I devote certain times of the day to 100% focusing just on her. I take full advantage of her nap time to work on “work” stuff, so we can have time together when she is awake. A couple of times a week, we set aside some time to go out as a family to do something fun together. Some of our favorite outings have been: Volo Auto Museum & Antique Mall, The Kohl Children’s Museum, Lake County Discovery Museum, and of course: Brookfield Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry. There are so many places we still want to visit, if only we had more time!
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing is that I genuinely love it. It really is a lifelong dream of mine to be able to do what I’m doing now. Even better, I get to work alongside my husband. I know it can be challenging, not to mention a real test on the relationship while working with a spouse. However, we’ve always worked really well together, and I have to admit that we make a great team! I love teaching people about how fascinating the animal kingdom is, and sharing our animals with people and seeing how they touch their lives is incredible.
Favorite day spot?
I’ve only lived in Illinois for just under three years now, so I feel like there are so many places I have yet to discover and explore. About a year ago, I discovered Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, and I’ve been back several times since. At only 45 minutes away, it’s not far at all, and it reminds me of one of my favorite little seaside towns on Vancouver Island, BC, where I grew up. Even though it’s relatively close, it always feels like a great little getaway, even if only for a few hours.
Best place in your town to eat with kids?
We love Moretti’s in Fox Lake. We’ve been regulars there since we moved out to this area 2 years ago. They have great kids meals at reasonable prices and on Monday’s kids eat for free! They have great pizza, burgers, salads, all kinds of stuff. I think between my husband and me, we have tried almost everything on the menu by now!
How did you learn the skill for your business?
I went to school at American’s Teaching Zoo in Moorpark, California (which is where I met my husband). We have our degrees in Exotic Animal Training, Wildlife Education and Animal Behavior. We have been fortunate to have had such fantastic experiences, including working with amazing people and animals. Now we have our own little zoo of amazing animals – about 70 of them! We travel all around Illinois and a bit into Indiana and Wisconsin with our animals to put on Exotic Animal Shows for various events. I have to say that we never have a dull moment around our house!
Jessica and her zoo live in Antioch with her husband and two daughters. She is a Canadian by birth, a published author and an Exotic Animal Trainer and Wildlife Educator through their business Animal Quest.
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