Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here!
It’s no surprise that I’ve been an animal fanatic since I was first pushed around the Zoo in a forest green jogging stroller. I can still remember looking out, and into a world of swaggering peacocks, sleepy hippos, and the “big, noisy bus” that gave me a bird’s-eye view from its top deck. Any of my elementary school classmates can attest that I was never at a loss for a random animal fact. By middle school, I was lecturing anyone who would listen on the similarities relating okapi to their closest relative, the giraffe.
Still, my childhood was a whirlwind of flip-flopping choices between what exactly my career would be with animals. By the age of six, I knew I was too squeamish to be a vet, and as much as I wanted to be a “Shamu trainer and artist on the weekends,” I simply refused to swim with my face underwater. Once I had grown too old for summer camps at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Humane Society, I immediately enlisted myself as a volunteer for both organizations.
Today, I get to spend my summer breaks as a junior counselor at the Humane Society, not only passing on knowledge, but engaging young campers in animal interactions. Returning to the camp that taught me there was nothing to fear in petting rabbits and guinea pigs has been a blast. Additionally, the last four years I’ve had the privilege of reaching out to the public through the San Diego Zoo’s very own teen interpreter program, Zoo Corps. Not many high school kids have had the experience asking a complete stranger to feel an elephant tusk in hopes that they’ll be receptive to a quick conservation lesson. Along with volunteering, which gives me experience I can use for the future, I also love exploring parks, trails, and the ocean with my camera to capture the present.
Even though I’ve yet to figure out what lies in my future, I value my past experiences and all I have learned from them. My life so far has been all about learning as much as I can so I can pursue my passions. I can’t wait to learn even more in the next seven weeks. Stay tuned to explore the inner workings of the Zoo with InternQuest!
InternQuest, Winter 2015