A Passion for Helping Others
Allison Nedrow has always had a passion for helping anyone or anything whether it be a friend or animal. “Since I was able to walk, I was always digging around in the dirt looking for worms or trying to chase a squirrel down the road because I wanted to give it a hug” says Allison. In high school, her interests in conservation and animal care drove her to be heavily involved with animal science classes and volunteer programs at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. “After I attended a marine biology camp as a junior in high school, I knew that I wanted to impact the world by inspiring others to love and appreciate all things in nature as a means to protect and conserve it”.
Aquarium and Zoo Science at SFU
“I chose Saint Francis because I felt as though I could gain a close working relationship with my professors. I knew that the small school size would help give me opportunities I would never see at a larger university, and I wanted my teachers and fellow classmates to constantly challenge me to be better while being an amazing support system in encouraging my passions” says Allison.
The Aquarium and Zoo Science program offered Allison a plethora of hands-on opportunities both in and outside of the classroom. Allison took a range of classes from conservation biology to animal care, nutrition, behavior and diversity classes. She participated in numerous off campus experiences through field trips to animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers and zoos. The program taught Allison the responsibility of caring for a range of species including exotic animals housed in the animal husbandry facility. Allison was also a point person for maintaining the 1500-gallon aquarium in the Science Center. The in-class experience prepared her for a summer internship at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. There, she assisted with a summer education program that exposed grade school children to exotic animals and conservation.
After graduating from Saint Francis, Allison moved to Topsail Island, NC for a summer internship at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. There she provided husbandry and medical care for 50+ sea turtles. Allison tells the story of her experience as an intern:
“In the mornings we would perform all of our husbandry and medical care, and in the afternoon the hospital would open to the public and we would give tours to visitors. As interns we were able to release the turtles we had rehabilitated back to the ocean, which also attracted hundreds of locals and tourists to watch us send our healthy reptile children back home. I grew very attached to two patients during my tenure at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital. The first was a 275 pound loggerhead named Dunebug. She had tried to come to shore to nest, but got disoriented by the wind and climbed her way over the dune and onto the road. She was very dehydrated and skinny, but when we laid her on the beach to make her way back to the ocean, I finally saw all the hard work myself and fellow interns had put forth. If you ask my friends, I said I didn’t cry that day and I had some sand in my eye, but I definitely did.
My second favorite patient was also a 115 pound loggerhead name Southport. He was actually caught in a collection pond and was attacked by what we think was baby alligators, so he had small injuries all over his carapace, his face, and was missing the majority of one of his rear flippers. To see such a small, gentle animal go through something so horrendous and still keep fighting was awe inspiring. He is still at the hospital today, and I hope to be able to attend his release this coming summer of 2018 since he is still close to my heart. Both Dunebug and Southport were infamous for pooping a lot, but I still loved them, stinky poops and all.”
What the Future Holds
Allison is currently working at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in central Maryland as a Hoofstock Keeper. She takes care of over 250 animals including camels, horses, antelope, zebras, ostrich and more. She also takes the zoo visitors on safari rides throughout the Africa exhibit and speaks about the animals she cares for. She hopes to be able to inspire the public to care about our planet and the amazing and diverse animals that live in it. The working environment at Catoctin is like a family, the support from her coworkers and bosses and their desire to help her learn and grow as a zookeeper means the world to Allison.
Allison aspires to one day return to school to continue her education to obtain a Masters degree in Conservation Education.
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