Sara Wilkes ’15 says her internship at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center taught her time management, the role of fate, and the importance humans have in the future of wildlife.
Wilkes, a biology major from Plano, Texas, who plans to earn a post-graduate degree at a veterinary school, has plenty of experience in her future field. She’s worked in zoos, has shadowed vets, and has volunteered with animals, but she felt it was time to experience animal rehabilitation.
Wilkes’ rewarding internship at the wildlife center in Boyce, Va., was just the ticket.
The wildlife team at the center is responsible for accepting new patients and preparing the animal orphans for their release into the wild. Wilkes cleaned and fed ridiculously adorable baby animals as well as performed supportive tasks around the center. Her experience gave her the assurance that she would like to work with wildlife in some capacity.
“This experience taught me so much about my future career aspirations,” says Wilkes. “I hope to work abroad for a gap year before going to veterinary school.” She adds, “I want to strengthen my practice somewhere exotic and exciting like Australia or South Africa.”
Working in a wildlife center, Wilkes learned much more than how to feed a baby bird. After their release, the lives of the orphaned animal patients are out of the center’s hands. “You have to let go and accept that things are not always in your control,” she shared.
Wilkes applies this lesson and others she learned at the internship to her daily life. She described the chaos of the center that required her to prioritize tasks on the fly while remaining calm. She now applies this mentality to her academics. “I used to sometimes get overwhelmed and spin around in circles and get stuck,” she explained. This experience taught her to cultivate time management skills to help her succeed.
Her internship developed Wilkes’ skills to evaluate the effects of human interaction with wildlife and the role humans play in the natural environment. She now uses those tools to analyze the world around her – on the campus and off.