October 3, 2022

Interns: Training the Next Generation

One of the cornerstones of Fossil Rim’s mission is the training of professionals for a future career in the zoological or environmental field. Since our inception, our organization has seen hundreds of interns come and go, each leaving with a refined skill set and renewed passion. All this being said, what do these former employees think about their time here? We reached out to several people who spent time at Fossil Rim and now have fully-fledged careers to find out how this place shaped and prepared them. 

An intern speaks to a group.

Emma Steeg, Hoofstock

When Emma first heard about Fossil Rim, she says she felt like an internship would be an amazing opportunity to build connections in the field. Not only that, but the wide array of species we have here provided hands-on experience that is less common at other facilities. 

“In a setting like Fossil Rim, you get to experience more immobilizations and neonatal exams,” Emma says. “You also get to fully experience herd management, whereas at most zoos it is a handful of a species.” 

Fossil Rim consists of 1800 acres split into four public pastures. Our animals have free-range of the majority of our land, something which lends itself to field work only found at similar facilities or in the wild. Our interns are able to take full advantage of this, adding onto previous or future work at traditional zoological facilities. Combined, these experiences prepare them for work in everything from international research to zookeeping. 

However, professional experience isn’t the only thing that leaves a mark. 

A blackbuck stands in front of one of our intern houses.

Cristina Powers, animal care and APC

It’s been 20 years since Cristina first applied for an internship at Fossil Rim, but she says the memories have never left her. 

“So many memories!” she says. “Where else will you be able to wake up and go to sleep surrounded by amazing animals? Bonus for the native wildlife that literally showed up on our doorstep.” 

Some of the fondest memories Cristina has of her time here is helping to raise two orphaned axis deer calves, and the day the Atwater’s Prairie Chickens she helped raise moved to their new home. Many of the practices that she participated in are still happening today, a testament to our never ending mission. That mission is continuing through Cristina’s current work at the Dallas Zoo. She says that although many of her previous Fossil Rim coworkers have retired or moved on from the facility, they impacted her greatly, both personally and professionally. 

An intern helps with morning feeding.

Tamara Jochem, Education

Tamara, another Fossil Rim alum, says that she saw dozens of Fossil Rim interns hired at different facilities during her time at the Dallas Zoo. Her internship was with our education department in the mid-90s, and although she did not pursue education specifically, she took what she learned here and transferred it into over two decades working with great apes. Tamara continued to volunteer at Fossil Rim from time to time, and says that she could see clearly how much the interns were benefiting from their training. 

We consider each of these examples, as well as every other intern who has passed through our facility to be a great accomplishment. Although we only listed a few here, our interns have gone on to work for dozens of partner zoological facilities here in the U.S. and abroad. As part of our mission, training the next generation of professionals is something we believe has the potential to positively impact the world around us for years to come. If you’re interested in applying for an internship, fellowship or other position at Fossil Rim, feel free to visit our careers page to learn more. 


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