Blazing a Nature Trail

OWU student is longtime volunteer, intern at San Francisco Zoo

OWU student Kristina Bergquist ’14 began volunteering at the San Francisco Zoo at age 12. She also has served an internship at the zoo and is working toward a career in wildlife conservation. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Bergquist ’14)

While all students learn a lot during their classes at Ohio Wesleyan, the University also recognizes the value of education outside the classroom. For Kristina Bergquist ’14, internships are a valuable and fun way to explore potential career paths.

Bergquist, an 18-year-old native of San Francisco, began working as a Nature Trail volunteer with the San Francisco Zoo when she was 12 years old. The Nature Trail includes numerous stations, with animals “from toads and snakes to parrots and owls” paired with youth volunteers who answer questions for zoo patrons.

“I really enjoyed teaching the visitors about our animals and sharing a little bit of my passion,” Bergquist says.

Bergquist took on a more active role with the animals following her promotion to “junior zoologist” two years later.

“I helped with daily care of the animals in the zoo’s Animal Resource Center,” Bergquist says. “This involved feeding and doing health checks on the animals, cleaning and making enrichment for their enclosures, and socializing them.”

It wasn’t long before Bergquist’s enthusiasm propelled her to a leadership role on the Nature Trail, where she had begun volunteering years before.

“As Nature Trail intern, my primary responsibility was to run the Nature Trail program—caring for the animals and directing the youth volunteers involved in the program,” Bergquist said, “I also learned how to handle some of the more challenging animals in our department and helped with daily activities in the animal resource center.”

The Nature Trail internship was a more prestigious position, including a stipend and managerial responsibilities, but Bergquist continued to volunteer as a junior zoologist during days when she wasn’t working as the Nature Trail intern last summer.

“I loved my time as a junior zoologist,” Bergquist said. “I had tons of fun, gained experience doing what I love, and learned a lot.”

At Ohio Wesleyan, Bergquist plans to major in zoology and environmental studies to prepare her for a career in wildlife conservation.

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