Where are they now?
Meet some of our wonderful former interns!
Katie Needles, April 2017
"My summer with the crew at FKWBC was the best summer of my life. Nothing quite compares to being apart of the intake, rehabilitation, and release of an animal.
I interned at both the sanctuary and the hospital so I learned both sides of the whole operation. Taking care of the permanent resident sanctuary birds, going on rescues, feeding baby birds - every part was just as rewarding as the next. I left my internship with a fish bucket full of experience and some life long friends.
My summer in the keys made me realize my true passion for conservation and rehabilitation. I now work at the Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI) in Wisconsin where I get to continue my work with wild bird rehab and lend a hand in training education ambassadors!"
Erin Riley, August 2017
"Interning at the FKWBC was the most life-changing thing I’ve ever done, and as a homebody living fourteen hours away from the Keys, it was also one of the most drastic. I’d conducted bird research in the field and taken care of exotic birds at an aquarium, but this internship was my first experience with wildlife rehabilitation. Immediately, I was hooked.
Rescuing an animal in need, helping it back on its feet, watching it return to the wild--there’s just something about saving a creature that likely would have died without your help that's pure magic to me.
I'll never forget a pelican that came to us with its lower beak and pouch sliced open by a fisherman's knife that was able to be released with a functioning beak. Some might find cases like that depressing, but I see them as an opportunity to right a wrong, or as an apology of sorts. Humans have the capacity to harm, but we also have the capacity to heal, and this internship showed me just how much I can help.
After leaving Florida, I immediately interned at another wildlife rehabilitation facility, and I’m currently a technician at a small but busy veterinary clinic in Oklahoma. My big dream is to start a center of my own one day—specifically, a wildlife rehabilitation center combined with a vet clinic so the clinic can help fund the rehab center. I didn’t even know wildlife rehab was an actual field before this internship. Now, I’ve helped save hundreds of lives, and I’m just getting started!"
Jesse Beck, December 2017
"After I earned my degree, I had been involved in a range of ornithological research projects until my 50/50 internship with the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center. FKWBC allowed me to diversify my skill set by introducing me to both wild bird husbandry and rehabilitation practices. I was taught how to provide daily care for the sanctuary residents, read avian behavioral signals, prepare a variety of diets for different taxonomic groups, gavage patients, palpate for fractures, recognize signs of a distressed bird and a host of other valuable tasks.
One of my favorite components of this internship was the variety of taxa the FKWBC team was responsible for on a day-to-day basis. In my previous research-based positions, I normally worked with a specific species or a small group of similar species. At FKWBC, I might handle and otherwise work with over twenty species in a day. The variety of species, the individual-specific care, and all the skills and knowledge I gained have all made me a far more relevant candidate in my job searches since my time with FKWBC."
These days, Jesse does seasonal field work and is currently developing his own tiny infrared camera system to record continuous 24 hour videos inside red-headed woodpecker nest cavities to help figure out what the birds do with egg shells, fecal sacs, and to capture predation events!
Rosemary Rice, May 2018
"This internship was everything I could have hoped for in a wildlife internship. Before starting, I had always thought birds were interesting and just fun things to watch but during my time in the keys, I learned that I have a deep passion for conservation through rehabilitation. The team was very open to hands-on training and allowed me to take on personal projects. I was able to reintroduce the resident Barred owl, Leopold, to glove behaviors and now he is out doing events and educating people on how cool he is!
I am currently working at a specialty vet hospital in Tampa Fl that I got through my clinical experience at the bird center and am learning more skills that will help me in future conservation opportunities. Thank you Florida Keys Wild Bird Center!"
Chelsey Peeler, August 2018
I began doing wildlife rehabilitation in 2014 as part of my college education and earned a degree in Wildlife Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Rehabilitation. In 2016, I began a part time zookeeping job at a local park. After I graduated in 2018 and began solely doing zookeeping, I realized how desperately I missed rehab! I put out tons of internship applications for many different jobs before finding the FKWBC and I wouldn’t trade my experience there for the world. I’ve always loved birds, but working with them every day made me appreciate them so much more. It was fascinating to learn different rehabilitation techniques from what I learned in college and work with so many new species!
My favorite part of the job was definitely doing rescues. Two rescues really stand out in my mind. The first was a cormorant that had swallowed a fishing hook attached to line and was tangled on a dock ladder. This was one particularly feisty cormorant, so trying not to get bitten, untangling the bird, cutting the line, and holding on to the ladder without falling into the water proved to be quite challenging, but I
managed and got him to safety! The second was a juvenile black vulture that had gotten himself stuck under a concrete dock. It was dark and the dock was only about 3 feet tall, so I was crawling under the dock in the water. Once I reached the bird, I had him in one hand, a flashlight in my mouth, and was using the other hand to crawl. The vulture was very angry, but we got him to safety and released him a few days later!
Wildlife rehabilitation is one of the most rewarding professions and will always be a part of me. I currently still have my part time zookeeping job working with native North Carolina such as bears, wolves, bobcats, foxes, reptiles, and birds! I hope to continue to further my wildlife career and hopefully one day be able to open a rehabilitation center of my own, as the need is great!
To apply for an internship, complete the Internship Application and send to
Please include your resume and cover letter.
Click here to read about our internship program!