Pelican Paradise | Ohio Wesleyan University

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Pelican paradise

Ohio Wesleyan student wins grant to support wildlife rescue internship in Florida

By Cole Hatcher

Name: Caitlin Hyatt ’22
Hometown: Lodi, Ohio
Majors: Pre-professional zoology and theater
Minor: Chemistry
OWU Login Live: Conservation and education: an internship with Pelican Harbor Seabird Station

Hyatt got a competitive price Theory to Practice Fellowship (TPG), which is part of the OWU Loginto support a three-month summer internship with Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, a non-profit wildlife rescue center located in Miami, Florida.

Why I chose this experience

“I want to get into wildlife and conservation in the future, and to do that I need hands-on experience. I worked at the Ohio Wildlife Center and got incredible training there, but I was missing one thing: pelicans.

“Pelicans are my favorite animal, and unfortunately Ohio has no native pelicans. I searched for wildlife rescues that included pelicans in their rescue, and found Pelican Harbor. was an opportunity to do a three month internship with Florida wildlife at a clinic and education center that gives me invaluable experiences while being in the beautiful city of Miami.

“I went from working with the common creatures of Ohio (possums, skunks, foxes, and raccoons) to seabirds in Florida (laughing gulls, king rooks, ibises, and of course, pelicans). which I couldn’t pass up!I want to be a well-rounded and knowledgeable wildlife rehabilitator and ecologist, so I want to work with as many species of wild animals as possible.

Caitlin Hyatt ’22 (right) feeds a pelican recovering from botulism while working at the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in Miami. (Photo by Amanda Burke)

My favorite moment

“The best experience I’ve had so far should come as no surprise. I learned how to hold a pelican, tube feed it (which involves sticking your arm all the way down its throat !) and administering subcutaneous fluids. Being so close to these majestic creatures made the whole trip worth it! And that was in the first two weeks! I still have two months left, so I can’t wait to learn and experience even more!

Lessons learned

“I have noted animal behavior and what can trigger certain animals. We take a few special precautions to make animals as calm and comfortable as possible. Like how hawks get stressed very easily and will use open mouth breathing to signal how stressed they are. When this happens, we will either put them back in their pen or cover their eyes to calm them down. …

This baby opossum is one of the animals that Caitlin Hyatt helps take care of. (Photo by Caitlin Hyatt)

“I’m learning about all kinds of animals, typical medications, how to look at an x-ray, how to administer medication, and keeping wild animals. The great part of this internship is that what I’m learning is not necessarily specific to the animals I work with, most of what I learn can be applied to other wild animals, even some native to Ohio! help, but I also learn the inner workings of working in a wildlife clinic, rehab, and education center.

Why internships are important

“This experience is important because it takes concepts and knowledge I learned in class and uses them outside in the real world! I love my classes, but there isn’t a lot of experience that you can acquire in a lab or a course. In order to be ready for higher education or the job market, you must have an idea and experience of what it is. My teachers gave me tools, but tools are only useful if I can build and create something with them. GPT experience is also helpful because many internships and shadowing opportunities are unpaid in the animal field. Without TPG, I wouldn’t have been able to spend three months here working at my dream job.

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I came to Ohio Wesleyan because of travel opportunities. I was told about the Travel-based learning course and the TPG program. I’ve always wanted to be a student of the world and learn as much as possible and explore as much as possible, and I loved that OWU supported that. While I planned to take travel-based courses (and I did! I took tropical biology in my first year and went to Costa Rica!), I never imagined to be able to write a proposal that would give me more opportunities to travel. The opportunities seemed limitless at OWU, and I just couldn’t pass them up.

My plans after graduation

“I plan to apply for the graduate school in the future. But before that, I would like to find a job with animals, whether in the wildlife or domestic sector to gain more experience with animals. OWU allowed me to develop my studies considerably, even obtaining a minor in chemistry (a subject in which I thought I was hopeless) and to have confidence in myself.

“I can brag about my experiences here at OWU and the prestigious education that comes with my degree. OWU has a large pool of alumni and I have found many alumni in my field who encourage me to work with them or who are willing to write letters of recommendation. OWU gave me knowledge, confidence and a network of people (alumni and professors) who support me. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

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