I grew up in a small beach town called Indian Harbour Beach, Florida. I had always loved animals, especially the marine life that surrounded us, but I had never planned on making a career out of it. I went to the University of South Florida in Tampa, where I got my degree in psychology with the intention of becoming a clinical psychologist. While in college, I started working at Busch Gardens and eventually got a job with their zoo education team. Getting paid to talk about animals and feed giraffes all day was a really eye-opening experience for me and showed me that the animal field was a lot bigger than just veterinarians.
About halfway through college, I applied and was accepted into a program to study abroad in Antarctica while participating in seabird research. Penguins have always been a favorite of mine, so there was no way I was going to turn down the opportunity! This was the first time I had left the country, so every bit of the experience was new for me. The opportunity to study seabirds was incredible and definitely expanded my love of animals, but at that point in my life, the chance to see the world was really what hooked me.
When I graduated in 2018, I decided to take a chance and follow a crazy childhood dream. I packed everything I owned into my Honda Civic and drove from Florida to Talkeetna, Alaska with the help of my dad. Here, I started working a variety of jobs while living in a small cabin (with no electricity or running water) and took every opportunity to explore the state. I spent my weekends driving as far as I could in my two days off and sleeping in my car along the way.
As the Alaskan summer came to an end, I decided that I would do a bit more traveling. I spent time in Spain as an Au Pair, then traveled to Ireland with my mom before spending some time in New York and Virginia. It didn’t take long to realize that I wanted to be back in Alaska, so when I was offered a job at The Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, it was an easy decision. Here, I met my partner Ryan, who was working at a bear sanctuary at the time, and we spent the summer hiking and exploring before he had to go back to finish his senior year of college in Colorado.
Working at the raptor center rekindled my desire to work with animals, so as my seasonal position came to an end, I accepted an internship with the Audubon Zoo primate team. Working with the lemurs was definitely my favorite part of the internship, but the whole experience was amazing and gave me a much deeper appreciation for the intelligence and individuality of animals. With no obligations after my internship, I headed up to Colorado to explore the Rockies with Ryan.
As we were applying for jobs and deciding what we would do for the summer, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US. We lost all the potential jobs we had, as well as both of us losing our current jobs at the time, so after spending 4 months couch surfing at our parents’ houses and having no luck with employment, the job posting for The Oasis Sanctuary seemed far too good to be true. I never expected to be an avian caregiver, but accepting these positions has proven to be the best-case scenario for Ryan, myself, and our dog Buster.