As a volunteer docent at the California Academy of Sciences, I engage the public in educational activities, educate them on different aspects of the natural world, and work to make science fun and approachable. Although it's definitely a high commitment and energy intensive position, I've found this experience to be incredibly rewarding as I've not only gained access to world-renown researchers and experts, but also can use my own knowledge and interests to inspire others.
During my holiday vacation in 2015, I volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Guatemala called ARCAS. I helped care for dozens of animals impacted by deforestation, human abuse, pet trafficking, and learned about the challenges faced by the indigenous species. I also made friends with fellow volunteers from around the world as we bonded over this mutual interest in wildlife conservation.
In the summer of 2014, I volunteered at Wildlife Friends Foundation, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Thailand. During my time there, I worked with animals like gibbons, asian elephants, moon bears, and langurs. This allowed me an intimate experience with animals without the abuse often found in the tourism industry. It also gave me a glimpse into the inner workings of an NGO and the difficulties of wildlife conservation in Thailand.
During my senior year in college, I had an internship at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, working with the polar bears, sea otters, blue runners, and other marine animals. This was my first real taste of animal husbandry and the challenges involved with caring for wildlife. It also allowed me to get a glimpse at the operations and perspectives of a zoo and wildlife in captivity, an often controversial practice.