Interning at Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society as an animal care intern was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Before working at MARS I was always a little nervous around large and wild animals and haven’t had the chance to work with them in a hands-on environment. However, interning at MARS gave me the courage to make a difference rehabilitating wildlife. Not only did MARS give me the courage to be close to large wildlife, I progressively became more comfortable in my ability to handle them correctly.
The internship at MARS was not completely what I expected, it was more. Yes, living and working in close quarters with other interns for 6 weeks could be a struggle from time to time, but the slight disadvantage of some bickering doesn’t even compare to the powerful and rewarding experience gained.
I was hoping this opportunity would confirm my decision to transition from a veterinary technician to a wildlife biologist. Although, while I was working as an intern I did miss being a veterinary technician very much, I was so overwhelmed and amazed with the feeling of helping wildlife. I now know that I have made the right decision to become a wildlife biologist working to protect and conserve wildlife. I learned that working at Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society as a salaried rehabber requires a grueling and committed lifestyle. I really admire everything Maj Birch and Reg Westcott do for MARS, however I learned that wildlife rehab is most likely something I will not be pursing as a career. I have determined that I would prefer my career path to involve more field research and data analysis.
I did get the chance to work under two wildlife biologists during a Great Blue Heron study, and I was very relaxed and felt “at home” while in the field, helping them with the research. I now understand why internships are so crucial in deciding what you would like to do in your future. Another decision I had to make during the course of the internship was whether to work at a non-profit organization or for a federal agency. Since I have not worked for a federal agency I feel like I cannot make a decision yet. Understandably the one thing that seemed to take precedence at MARS was fundraising, mainly through education. I like the general idea of educating the public on the necessity of protecting our wildlife, however I feel like I would like to work primarily for and with the animals.
Overall this whole adventure was a rewarding experience in many ways. Besides gaining responsibility and knowledge to be applied to my future, I had an extremely fun time. Lots of great laughs, inside jokes and entertainment were shared while working with other interns, volunteers, and employees at MARS. I had never been to Canada before and had a great time volunteering my time and exploring my surroundings. Essentially, I am just ecstatic to have had such an amazing opportunity and now can’t wait to get started with my future career.