Major: Wildlife Ecology and Management
Expected Graduation: Spring 2020
Organization: American Eagle Foundation (AEF)
Internship Completed: Summer 2018
During the summer of 2018, I was fortunate enough to intern at the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) in Pigeon Forge, TN. The American Eagle Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation, education, conservation, and repopulation of Bald Eagles and other birds of prey. As an intern, I assisted staff and volunteers in the daily cleaning of enclosures and feedings of their non-releasable raptors. There was never a day where I was not covered in bird poop, quail feathers, or rat guts. I also learned more about the art of flight training birds of prey for their daily exercise and for the Wings of America show at Dollywood. One of the most exciting experiences of my internship was assisting in the daily care of AEF’s captive-bred eaglets located in their hack tower over Douglas Lake. The AEF is the only organization in the United States that is still permitted to breed Bald Eagles and release them into the wild for the purpose of re-population.
Aside from the daily care of raptors, my internship program was focused on the educational aspect of avian conservation. Throughout my summer internship, I completed two special projects that involved giving raptor presentations and interacting with the public. For both of my projects, I presented educational programs to large groups of people, and for my final project, I debuted on the stage of Wings of America at Dollywood and spoke to the public about Eastern Screech Owls. Throughout my internship, I was able to expand on my knowledge of raptor husbandry and conquer my fear of public speaking. This internship really challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and obtain new knowledge not only about birds of prey but the AEF as well. The staff and volunteers were always encouraging and willing to help me whenever I faced a challenge. My experiences at the AEF have provided me with many networking and job opportunities, and as a result of my hard work and dedication as an intern, the AEF offered me a seasonal position for the summer of 2019. If you are interested in interning with them next summer, I encourage you to visit their website to learn more about how to apply.
Top Left: Me and Penny, a juvenile Bald Eagle, spending time outside.
Top Right: Posing for a photo after my presentation in the Wings of America show at Dollywood, featuring Gimli the Eastern Screech Owl.
Bottom: Speaking to a large tour group about Barred Owls, featuring Barry the Barred Owl.
If you would like to share your internship experience with your peers and the SFWS community, please email email@example.com with your name, major, anticipated graduation date and where you are interning (or interned), what you learned, and how you feel this experience will benefit your academic and/or professional career. Also, please send a photo(s) of your internship work with a caption as well.