Our fourth intern is Yeonji Cho who grew up in Marin County, California. She attends the University of California at Berkeley and is a sophomore. She interned last year at a veterinarian hospital and next summer hopes to intern with a large animal veterinarian practice. “The internships will help me make the right career choice,” she explained. As a high school intern, “we spent most of our time watching and observing, but at SCWR, we’re interacting with animals every day.” Her first experience with animal care was as a child with a sick pet. “It was a helpless feeling,” she related, “and I think that’s what inspired me to make a career in animal care.”
The Center is really busy and that makes the day go by fast. There’s no sitting around wondering what needs to be done next – there’s always a long list of tasks waiting for the students. Yeonji really enjoys the weekly group lunches with her fellow interns. “We exchange experiences, plan for the rest of the week and learn from each other and the staff.” She’s thankful for the trust that the staff has placed in the interns. Her favorite intern experience so far has been to work with baby raccoons and observe our resident coyotes up close.
Interested in interning? See our Internship page.
Introducing SCWR’s Intern Program !
At the end of May 2012, SCWR inaugurated its first Summer Intern Program with an orientation for interested college students. Kristen Reeder, then SCWR's Education Director, developed the program and over 15 students applied. Many attend California colleges and were eager for a “real-life” experience over the summer months. Six prospective interns attended the orientation. “My goal for the orientation day was for students to get a sense of the reality of working at a rescue center – the physical demands, the courage that’s expected – and all the clean-up work,” explained Kristen.
From the initial class of interested students – four enthusiastic interns emerged who are spending their summer months immersed in wildlife care.
Adrienne Ash from North Lake Tahoe is a senior at Sonoma State University majoring in biology. She grew up in the Tahoe area and remembers her childhood encounters with noisy raccoons and hungry bears who would try to break into their home. But it was a potential “meal” that the family cat brought home – an injured songbird – that gave Adrienne her first exposure to animal rescue. She volunteered at local wildlife centers for her high school senior project and presented non-releasable animals to her classmates. Asked about her career path, Adrienne admits she hasn’t made firm plans. “Possibly a career in wildlife care, but I’m also looking at veterinary school. This exposure to a wide range of care practices will help me narrow my search.” Adrienne was surprised at how quickly she began working with animal patients at the Center. “I expected to be cleaning cages and watching as others with more experience treated the animals, but during the first week I was trained to pick up animals and assist with hospital tasks. Picking up my first raccoon baby was awesome, but also a little intimidating.”
Holly Ferrara volunteered at SCWR when it first moved onto the present site on Mecham Road. “I was a Junior Volunteer at the old site and when it was time to move, I remember cleaning rooms and moving boxes.” Holly left to attend Humboldt State University and now as a senior, she returns to find the Center expanding and growing. “I hadn’t been to the Center in a few years and I was amazed at all the work that’s been done – the new enclosures, the gardens, the hospital – it’s really amazing!” Holly grew up in the Calistoga area and was active in 4H programs as a child.
Each intern was asked for their own personal commitment of time over the term of the program and Holly works at the Center five days a week. She’s grateful for the caliber of training she’s receiving and guidance by staff and skilled volunteers. Her favorite experience so far has been to collect, prepare and analyze fecal samples. “At school, we just look at a prepared sample under the microscope, but here we go into the enclosure, isolate the animal, collect the sample, prepare it on a slide and then look at it and identify the parasite. There’s so much more to learn when you’re involved in the process from start to finish.” Holly is pursuing a degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation.
Travis Strong, a sophomore at Humboldt State University, found the program by searching wildlife web sites. He was looking for hands-on experience as he pursues a degree in wildlife biology. “I’ve toured the White Wolf Sanctuary in Tidewater, Oregon,” Travis recalls. “And since I’ve always been interested in canines and especially wolves, watching and interacting with the resident coyotes here at the Center is really a treat. It’s sad when an animal is imprinted on humans at an early age and can’t be released back to the wild, but it gives us a great opportunity to study their behaviors.”
The work involved to feed animals in the summer months is non-stop and the interns provide much needed help. “My first hands-on experience as an intern here was bottle feeding a raccoon,” recalled Travis. “They seem very docile for the first couple weeks of life and then one day without warning – they become a real force of nature! The staff has taught me several techniques to use depending on the species and its age. My knowledge has just snowballed with all this hands-on experience.” Travis is exploring several possibilities for his career choice including animal behavior and working with endangered species.