As more and more species become endangered, a need for more conservation volunteers grows. For years, I have been working with organizations of different levels helping endangered animals from the smallest bird to the largest mammal. This May I hope to embark on the largest trip I have ever done to work with SANCCOB in Capetown, South Africa. The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Seabirds works to conserve and protect seabirds through rehabilitation and awareness. With your support, I will be able to purchase airfare and travel insurance while in South Africa. Your support will also enable me to protect and preserve seabirds, like African Penguins, for future generations.
What I Will Be Doing_______________________________________
- 6-Week Volunteer Trip in Capetown, South Africa
- Working with SANCCOB
"As well as learning about the life-cycle and conservation of the African Penguin, which is still an endangered species, you will also be very 'hands - on' as you are taught how to catch, hold, feed and tube feed these wonderful birds each with their own individual characters. You will care for the weak, the strong, the cheeky and the just plain daft and when the sun is high you will probably find yourself longing to join them in the pool too! You will also be involved with the many other tasks that need to be carried out daily including the preparation of fish, cleaning the pens, pools and mats, sterilizing syringes and many more things besides."
My Story _________________________________________________
My life has been based upon one simple, short word "“ hope. We define it as feeling something is possible no matter what, that what you want to accomplish can and will happen. This something for me was a career with animals "“ specifically conservation medicine. While growing up, I faced the challenge of living in a small town with few opportunities as well as the only animals I saw on a daily basis being cattle and dogs. Despite all the curves life threw at me, I never gave up.
A year after graduating high school, I had been accepted into an ongoing internship at the Memphis Zoo. This is where the story really begins. I started working with the Bird Department - mainly with African Penguins. Although the Zoo was over three hours away, I started making the trip every Saturday. These little feathered creatures quickly got a hold on my heart and I soon found myself wanting to know more and more about them. My wish came true when we started a research collaboration with SANCCOB - The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Seabirds. I grew an interest in SANCCOB and wanted to travel to work with them personally but, could never afford the expenses. So, I went on to volunteer at other stateside institutions.
As if three hours was not enough, I journeyed to New Zealand where I was surrounded by the some of the largest conservation efforts on the planet. From there,I found myself invited to the Smithsonian Conservation Research Institute where few undergraduates ever set foot. Now, I find myself traveling to an even different state to volunteer at a tiger rescue sanctuary.
While relaxing after one of these internships, I stumbled upon AVIVA's facebook page, the organization which coordinates SANCCOB's international volunteers. They were holding a contest in which the winner would receive the trip package to work hands-on with SANCCOB in Capetown, South Africa. Extremely excited, I started sharing the link to all my friends, hoping to get in as many contest entries as possible. I awoke early that Friday morning to see the results:and:posted at the top of the AVIVA page was my name announced as the winner.
Every day since then has felt like a dream. It amazes me how far I've come since my childhood and how far hope has carried me. I have found myself working with some of the world's most amazing animals and become a better person along the way. In just a few short months, I will find myself working alongside some of the leaders in conservation work with African Penguins and other coastal birds.
This is where all of you come in. Although I have won the trip package, my airfare and living expenses are not included. Due to my college expenses and planning for starting veterinary school in the Fall, I cannot make this trip without help from all of you. Even if you cannot donate large amounts, every dollar counts. With the help of my family, friends, and even kind strangers, I hope to and will make a difference in the lives of the wild African Penguins I meet.