My love of animals has always been with me, but the first time I ever worked with anything other than the horses and chickens on my farm was when I was thirteen. I began volunteering at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Florida caring for native wildlife that had been injured or confiscated from illegal trafficking. I was young, so it was through a kids program that met once every other week and the most dangerous animal we worked with was a pelican. I scrubbed their waterfowl pond twice a month and came home smelling like smelt, but I loved every second of it.
A few years later I was accepted into their real people volunteer program when I could drive myself. I prepared diets by cutting up mice and chicks with scissors for the birds of prey and dicing sweet potatoes and squash for the deer. It was hot, sticky work but I loved each raccoon, vulture and cougar at the sanctuary.
It was an amazing feeling working at Busch because I knew how appreciated I was. I was the only volunteer who would show up on Sundays, so there was always plenty of work. Not to mention the commissary was always so quiet and I reveled in the fact that I got to pick my own radio station.
My friends never really understood why I volunteered there when all I could talk about was wanting to go to medical school and be a surgeon, I just shrugged and told them it was my happy place.