Chloe Dillion, a biology/pre-veterinary medicine student, answered a few questions about her summer internship with Sierra Wildlife Rescue:
Tell us about your internship.
My internship is with Sierra Wildlife Rescue, a volunteer based organization in El Dorado County that focuses on rehabilitating animals with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. At Sierra Wildlife I am simply known as an intern, which doesn't sound prestigious but has marvelous experiences.
How did you hear about it?
I was feeling desperate one weekend when I realized that my summer was looking unproductive. In order to get into veterinary school, you need a substantial amount of animal experience. Thank goodness for the internet and good ol' Google search. I was relieved and ecstatic when I discovered that Sierra Wildlife Rescue was right near my home.
What is your average day?
Because Sierra Wildlife is a multifaceted organization, my days can drastically vary. There are specific people in charge of various animal species, so it depends on who I contact and choose to work with. This "internship" becomes plural depending on how many programs I take on, keeping me plenty busy! On some days I go to the Sierra Wildlife headquarters and work in the baby bird nursery, where I care for newly born chicks to fully mature birds. On other days, I work under Dave Cook, a veteran of the Sierra Wildlife program. For 11 years, he has been focused on fawn rehabilitation. When I spend the day at his facility, I have the opportunity to hold adorable fawns during feeding and IV sessions, stand in on their veterinary visits, and I have the gratification of seeing them grow and learn to feed themselves. It will be bittersweet when I see them released back into the wild.
What makes this internship fun or interesting?
The animals, no doubt! Every day, I can expect something new and different. I never know what little furry or feathered critter is awaiting me, or how many! Just the other day we had a juvenile red tailed hawk come into the baby bird nursery, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. I was beyond pleased that I got to hold and care for such a beautiful creature. Knowing that I can choose from any of the various animal care branches greatly broadens my experience and keeps things exciting. I am currently in contact with a woman who focuses on raptor (birds of prey) care, and will hopefully care for some raptors, squirrels, chipmunks and possibly coyotes soon!
What's the most challenging part of your internship?
The most challenging part for me is when an animal is lost, or is non-salvageable due to extreme injury. Often if a bird's leg is broken severely, or a fawn is torn up from an attack or had the misfortune of meeting barbed wire, it is more beneficial or humane for the animal to be euthanized. Although it's necessary to be prepared for decisions like these in this line of work, it is never easy.
What knowledge and skills are you learning?
Besides general animal care and feeding, I am getting to see some of the medical side of things. Thus far I have learned about the administering of various medications and care of broken limbs. Alongside the beauty of medical care, I love obtaining general knowledge of different species. It allows me to become more conscious of the wildlife that lives in my area, and it's always better to know what you're talking about!
How will this experience help you toward your career goals?
Because I aspire to be a wildlife veterinarian, it's incredibly necessary that I submerse myself in these kind of experiences. These internships not only look great on veterinary college applications, but they also remind me that I really am following my dream. Helping wildlife in my area has been immensely rewarding and has solidified my aspiration to become a successful and knowledgeable animal doctor. I just learned that I secured another internship, this time at the Folsom Zoo. Now I will be responsible for helping care for zoo animals in addition to my current work. I can't even begin to express my excitement. These internships are making my dream all the more real.