Wildlife Rehabilitation Internship - Summer 2024

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Contact Michelle Pettis
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United States (Florida)

Applications are currently being accepted for candidates 18 years or older interested in a rehabilitation internship at a wildlife refuge in the Florida panhandle. The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge (ECWR) is a non-profit organization, which means the internship positions are unpaid, but can provide academic credit if approved by your educational institution. Interns should have a reliable mode of transportation and are responsible for securing their own housing for the duration of the internship. (Please be sure to look into the cost of housing for this area to see if you are financially stable enough to support yourself with housing here.) The internship requires a commitment of working for a minimum of 15 weeks, but the internship can be extended if the intern is interested in something longer. Interns work a full-time schedule, with daily shifts that can last anywhere from 8-9 hours during the slower seasons (early spring or late fall) to 10-11 hours during the peak of the busy season (lasts from late spring through all summer).

Our internship program is designed to provide rehabilitation training that focuses on native Florida wildlife. With this training, the intern will be able to participate in actual patient care and practice hands-on wildlife rehabilitation skills. Interns are trained under the direct guidance of our licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, who also teaches weekly lectures and lab activities to the interns in order to provide as much information as possible throughout the internship. The experience gained from this immersion into the world of wildlife rehabilitation and animal husbandry is extremely beneficial to those who are contemplating careers in the fields of veterinary medicine, wildlife management, wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, biology, or zoology.

Internship Session Time Frame:
Summer 2024 → Can run from May-August or June-September depending on the availability of the candidate. (Individual internship start and end dates can be flexible to accommodate students and their academic calendars.)

Requirements:
-Must be pursuing a relevant degree or have a strong passion to work in this field
-Ability to control the urge to play with and/or pet the wildlife
-Ability to lift, push, or pull 30 pounds
-Ability to stand, walk, kneel, bend, etc. for extended periods of time
-Ability to work outdoors in all weather conditions, especially high heat and humidity
→ Exposure to mosquitoes and other small insects is likely
-Ability to cope with the preparation of meat-based diets for animals in our care
-Ability to perform basic math calculations
-Ability to understand basic medical terminology
-Ability to understand decision-making concerning quality of life issues and euthanasia for wildlife patients
-Once trained, must be able to work with minimal supervision, yet must recognize limitations in knowledge and abilities and ask for help when needed
-Ability to work independently for long periods of time, as well as work in a professional manner within a team atmosphere with other interns/volunteers/staff
→ Understand the need to perform your assigned tasks, but also recognize when others need extra help and be able to step in to provide assistance in order for everyone to accomplish their goals/tasks for the day

Learning opportunities provided throughout the internship:
-Hands-on wildlife experience through proper handling, feeding, and rehabilitation procedures
-Knowledge and experience in all aspects of animal husbandry: understanding and following guidelines for animal welfare, creating diets based on species-specific nutritional requirements, creating and distributing enrichment
-Neonatal care with a multitude of avian and mammalian species
-Exposure to the operations of a non-profit organization and a wildlife rehabilitation center
-Knowledge of humane coexistence with wildlife, natural animal behaviors, and reuniting babies with parents
-Calculating drug dosages while identifying and understanding different medications and their applications
-Lecture topics taught by the Wildlife Rehabilitator: Wildlife Capture/Rescue, Phone Etiquette, Medical Terminology, Wildlife Diseases, Examining Wildlife Patients, Triage & Bandaging Techniques, and Pharmacology
-Observe/assist with marine mammal and sea turtle strandings/necropsies, as needed (not guaranteed)

Intern responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:
1.) Animal Husbandry → 37.5% of the internship
-Cleaning indoor and outdoor animal habitats to USDA standards, which involves the daily removal of fecal material, old food, prior enrichment, stagnant water, soiled linen and other items.
-Habitat building and maintenance, such as raking leaves/sand from habitats, removing weeds, sweeping concrete areas, shoveling/moving sand to fill habitats, and more
-Sanitizing soiled items in habitats, such as tires, branches, exercise wheels, crates/dens, etc
-Daily diet preparation, which involves handling raw fish and meat food items
-General facility maintenance - sweeping, mopping, laundry, dishwashing, organizing, etc
-Safely capturing wildlife patients that have been successfully rehabilitated and are ready for release per state and federal regulations
2.) Wildlife Nursing → 37.5% of the internship
-Cleaning indoor enclosures of orphaned mammals and birds to USDA standards, which involves the daily removal of fecal material, old food/water, soiled linens, and other items
-Understanding species-specific formulas and their applications, as well as specific ratios and feeding styles for the most commonly encountered orphaned species
-Handling, weighing, and accurately recording patient health data
-Cleaning and sanitizing assortment of feeding supplies, such as bottles, nipples, syringes, and tubes
-Performing neonatal feeding techniques for litters of orphaned mammals every 1-2 hours
-Performing hatchling/fledgling feeding techniques for nests of orphaned songbirds every 30-60 minutes
-Taking home neonatal mammals and hatchling songbirds for after-hours feeding and general care
3.) Veterinary Medicine → 25% of the internship
-Cleaning cages of injured or sick patients in the ICU, Intake Room, and Isolation Ward
-Safely handling [aggressive] wildlife patients for examinations and various medical treatments
-Administering oral and injectable (subcutaneous & intramuscular) medications
-Performing medical treatments such as wound cleaning, bandaging, and splinting
-Conducting initial assessments and creating suggested treatment plans for new patients
-Cleaning and sanitizing medical instruments, such as syringes, forceps, hemostats, feeding tubes, etc
-Organizing and restocking medical supplies in exam/surgical room
-Assisting staff with digital radiography & monitoring patients while under anesthesia for procedures
-Managing the facility’s wildlife hotline to coordinate wildlife rescues and answer the public’s inquiries

To apply, please email a cover letter and resume to:
Michelle Pettis, Intern Coordinator michelle@emeraldcoastwildliferefuge.org

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