Hometown: I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and am very fortunate to live close to International Bird Rescue’s Cordelia center!
Education: I was homeschooled with my sisters all the way through 12th grade, and am currently a full-time student at the local junior college, where I am completing my undergraduate work. I know that I want to work in the field of avian rehabilitation, especially after my internship with IBR, but I am still exploring the different avenues available to me. I am considering becoming a rehabilitation technician, registered veterinary technician, or doctor of veterinary medicine. Right now I am leaning toward becoming a veterinarian. I plan to get my Ph.D.
How I got started: I originally decided to start volunteering at IBR because it would give me experience working with wildlife in a rehabilitation capacity, though at the time I was interested in becoming a cetacean biologist. It didn’t take long for me to absolutely fall in love with the animals, the work and the people. I never imagined two years ago that I would one day hold wild birds in my hands, administer medications to them, clean enclosures large enough for a person to live in, prepare fish, perform examinations and have the opportunity to learn from some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
Favorite species: I have always been partial to birds with attitude, and yeah, that means the angry ones who try to bite you! I love it when a bird is really feisty, because that generally means that they have a good prognosis. Green Herons are really cool, when you first open their cage they all point their beaks straight up into the air and are still able to look at you with both eyes, because they protrude a little. They are small, and some of the trickiest escape artists ever — so full of personality! Gulls are great, they really stick up for themselves. I love cormorants, they are really beautiful birds. They also look at you with their beaks in the air and are very rambunctious! And grebes are fantastic, I love their lobed toes and the way they fold their feet and head into their feathers when they sleep!
#SaveWildlife Advice: If you are interested in helping animals and being involved in their rehabilitation, volunteer! You’ll learn amazing things and get to meet incredible people who are passionate about the work that you are doing to make the world a better place. The people at IBR are incredibly dedicated, smart, kind, nurturing, funny and caring. The atmosphere is warm and delightful — a great bunch of people!
Don’t worry if you’re too young to start volunteering, you’ll get there soon enough. And in the mean time you can tour centers, research animals and talk to staff and volunteers from rehabilitation organizations. A great resource is the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) website. They have information regarding oil spill response and rehabilitation. There is also a list of rehabilitation centers and organizations throughout the state of California that would be fascinating to learn about and visit!
I hope that you are able to be a part of something that is as wonderful, surprising and thrilling as interning and volunteering at IBR!