As an intern for the Suisun Marsh Natural History Association, junior Kristina Smrekar fed, administered oral medication, cleaned enclosures and completed medical charts for native California Wildlife. Suisun is a non-profit volunteer organization, dedicated to the rescue of native California wildlife and to the preservation of the Suisun Marsh, working through the dual avenues of wildlife rescue & release and environmental education.
“This internship helped me gain hands-on experience with wildlife, which I believe is essential for anyone who wants to work with wildlife in their career, Kristina said. “I formed connections with people who will be assets to me for when I begin looking for a job that relates to my experience. Lastly, this affirmed in my mind that working with wildlife would be incredibly rewarding and is something I am truly passionate about.”
Since Suisun Wildlife Center’s opening, over 300 different species of birds, mammals, and reptiles have been treated; and almost 16,000 have been released back into the wild.
“I saw many animals make miraculous recoveries,” she said. “There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing an animal make progress every day, and then eventually releasing them back into the wild.”
Kristina advises that most wildlife rehabilitation centers rely heavily or solely on volunteers, so having connections in the industry can help students find a paid position.
“This was the best decision of my life. I was tired most days, and the work was challenging, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” she said. “Internships are so valuable and rewarding, and I would encourage anyone who is interested in doing one to pursue it.”