Sunday, November 18, 2012

What It's Like To Be A WBS Intern

The World Bird Sanctuary is a wonderful example of the people in this world that care about the environment and the creatures that live in it.  They do a fantastic job of sticking to their principals and running an extremely professional facility.

Before I started volunteering I never really put much thought into who runs places like this.  Of course there is the year round staff, but there are also volunteers and interns as well.  As a previous intern at the World Bird Sanctuary I would like to tell you what it was like to spend the summer at this amazing place.
 Megan Weidman, another intern, helping to train the Pelican
This internship was truly a shot in the dark for me. Being a senior photography student from Indiana needing only 12 credits to graduate, my motto became, “Why not?!” when applying for a summer internship might provide me at least 6 credits toward my December 2012 graduation.  When Roger Holloway called and offered me the internship I can honestly say I did not know what to expect.  As an intern you can choose to stay on the grounds or at home depending on where you live.  All interns have a project they have to do during their internship.  You happen to be reading my intern project--photo articles for WBS’s blog.  You can pick anything, like assisting with Pelican training, as Megan Weidman did this summer (see photo).  We are also required to participate in a few after hours projects during our time there.

Once there you are put on a schedule that rotates you between four different departments throughout any week; Nature Center, Visitors Center, Rehab and ETC.  After a while you get into a rhythm.   You mostly do the same things at each place every week--but don’t be fooled—every day is a little different. 
 Preparing to remove one of our raptors from its travel crate
One thing you have to do is be approved to handle the jessed raptors on your own.  Once approved you start to learn how to free fly the trained raptors for educational shows.  Eventually, you get to go out to shows and help a staff member educate a group of people about our beautiful birds and animals.  I went on a few shows; I flew for a classroom and a group of kids at a day camp.  I also got to go on the news with one of our Eastern Screech Owls and Teri Graves, WBS’s Director of Education. 

One of my favorite places to work was WBS’s Wildlife Hospital, where injured raptors are rehabilitated.  The reason for this is because I participated in the treatment and rehabilitation of wild birds that people would bring to us.   Every Thursday we have a volunteer vet come in to do a check up on the birds at the hospital.  I learned a lot working there.  One of the pictures included is of me releasing a Great Horned Owl back into the wild.  We got her in the week I started working at the World Bird Sanctuary.  Watching and helping her go from almost non-responsive to healthy and being able to release her back into the wild is one of my fondest memories.
 Intern Tracy Swanson preparing to band a bird while assisting the Field Studies team
We also get to participate in field studies with the bird banding team, as you can see in the photo of Tracy Swanson.  In addition there were the fun outings we had with the sanctuary--like intern lake day and the cook out. 
 Just some of the many friends I met at the World Bird Sanctuary
The end of my summer there was bitter sweet.  I was ready to go home, but I realized later how much I missed the other interns, staff members and especially the birds. 

As an art student at Purdue, with little to no experience up close with wildlife, being an intern at the World Bird Sanctuary was a completely new and different experience. 

So, if you have the chance to be an intern here, take it.  You will not get an experience like this anywhere else.

Submitted by Kaitlin Conti, World Bird Sanctuary Intern

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