Internship of the Month: ECHO Lakeside Aquarium and Science Center

Posted on January 19, 2012 with No Comments

Kyle Pestlin

Intern: Kyle Pestlin
Class Year: 2012
Major: Biology
Employer: ECHO Lakeside Aquarium and Science Center
Internship Title: Animal Care Intern
Website: www.echovermont.org
LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kyle-pestlin/21/945/963

Briefly tell us about the organization you were with:

ECHO is an aquarium and science center located on the Burlington Waterfront. Their goal is to provide a fun and interactive environment for kids to learn about the local history, culture, and ecosystems. ECHO houses 70+ species of fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles and provides various internship opportunities including a variety of education/teaching internships.

How would you describe the various projects you did in for your organization someone who is unfamiliar with your field?

I worked in the Animal Care department which strictly deals with the animals. My job consisted of cleaning tanks, feeding, designing and building exhibit habitats, medicating animals, and learning about ECHO’s water system. All the techniques I’ve learned in animal care are transferable to other zoos and aquariums across the country to the standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

What did you like best about this internship? What was most challenging?

What I enjoyed most about this internship was to learn about all the different aspects of animal husbandry. Working at ECHO has really improved my ability to create animal specific habitats that I now apply to my lizard tanks at home.

The most challenging aspect of working at ECHO was to remember all the different diets for each of the animals. For example, some fish get fish food that we make, while some eat fish, some eat earth worms, others eat blood worms, and that’s just the fish. Frogs, reptiles, turtles, and crustaceans all have specific diets as well.

How did you gain credit for this internship?

I met with Mary Beth Barritt at Career Services. She informed me of a course she was teaching that provides credit for internships (EDSS 239). The work for the course consisted of reading inspiring and thought-provoking articles and then writing responses to these articles while including relevant internship experience. This course helped facilitate the learning process in my internship by requiring critical thinking on aspects of the internship that otherwise would have gone without acknowledgement or appreciation.

What impact did this internship have on your career direction?

This internship really opened my eyes to what I truly enjoy doing. Just knowing that I am improving the lives of these animals by giving them care and attention makes it all worth it. This internship has also confirmed the importance of knowing you are contributing and making a difference in society.

What advice do you have for students searching for internships?

When looking for an internship you have to stay persistent and look for a job in a field you are truly interested in.

Why should students do an internship?

I feel having an internship is really helpful no matter what. Even if you hate your internship you then know that you may be in the wrong field. You may learn you enjoy certain aspects of your internship more than others, and it may not even be what you had expected. This helps narrow your overall career path to the job that will ultimately be best for you.

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