Friday, April 17, 2009

Life as an Intern at RSCF - Ashley Gray

In 2008, RSCF hosted two interns during the summer. Eva Kennedy and Ashley Grey spent several weeks living and working at RSCF's Florida breeding and research center. They share their thoughts and experiences here. If you are interested in RSCF internships please contact us!

Ashley Gray - Intern 2008

My trip began on August 7th and lasted until August 17th 2008. I left the infamous Virginia humidity for a new kind of weather pattern found in Palm Beach, Florida. I was greeted by Eva who was the other intern from Emory University. We were scheduled to stay in the cabin on site and become full-time employees during our stay. She had already been there a month prior to my arrival so she quickly told me what to expect. I had only a slight idea what I would really be doing when I got to Palm Beach. I just said “sign me up” when I heard I would be working with endangered species!

My future goal is to attend the Virginia Tech Veterinary School. In order to apply to Vet School, you must have animal related experience, veterinarian related experience, and research experience. I had heard about the Rare Species Conservatory through a connection at the University of Virginia. A quick phone call to Dr. Reillo, and I was set to be there in August. I knew I would never have an opportunity such as this one to work with these endangered species so closely. Not only did it fulfill my passion for animals, but it also helped provide me with deeper insight into the natural world than I had expected.

My first morning started at 7:30 am. Eva and I got ready in our cabin so we could begin our routine at 8 am. Since I had gotten there Saturday night, I was interested to walk around and see the actual facility. We made the rounds in the aviary checking on all the parrots and monkeys. Then, I met all the employees who were friendly and great to work with. The first task of the day is the prepare all the food bowls and set up the golf cart so we can easily feed all of the parrots, monkeys, bongo antelope, and iguana! I never had realized how extensive their diet must be in order for them to maintain perfect health. After this, I went with Justin into the Bongo Antelope compound and helped him give them hay, grain, and fresh water. I was shocked when I saw the Bongo’s for the first time! They were a lot larger than our Virginia White-tailed Deer, which was what I had pictured them to be like. We finished the day around 11 am once all the animals were happy and fed. This became my daily routine for the next 9 days, which was very convenient allowing us to do other things during the day.

Dr. Reillo and I went on Sunday night to the Breakers Hotel to check out the Red-cheeked Amazon parrot, which nests there all summer. It is a very endangered parrot that RSCF monitors during its stay in Palm Beach. I liked the bird already with its exquisite taste! I had never been to the Breakers before and enjoyed walking around the premises. We ended up only seeing about six birds since it was the end of their season, and they migrate to another food source the beginning of August.

Since my interest lies within the field of Veterinary medicine, Dr. Reillo became a great resource for me. He is very well connected around Florida and helped me find things that would interest me. One day, I got to shadow Dr. Hammond at Lion Country Safari, who is an Exotic Veterinarian. It was an amazing experience and one I had never had before. Another day, I shadowed Dr. Davis who is a Large Animal Veterinarian. I helped pregnancy check over 200 cows and saw my first full-scale cattle operation. It was an experience in itself. Not only did Dr. Reillo allow me to learn from Rare Species Conservatory, but he also helped me gain experience in other parts of Florida. I would have never had this opportunity if it weren’t for his help.

I hope to come back to Florida at some point in the near future to help out more because it really opened up my eyes. It made me understand the many other aspects of the animal world besides Vet Med. I recommend this experience to anyone who loves animals and is open to an amazing experience! I just want to thank everyone again at Rare Species Conservatory for helping me achieve my future goals while learning things along the way!

1 comment:

John said...

When checking out a vet school, this looks like an awesome place to begin your academic program! The True Blue Campus at St. Georges University.