OWL RESEARCH INSTITUTE INTERNSHIPS
CORNELL LAB OF ORINTHOLOGY, ITHACA, NEW YORK
ORI's YOUNG INTERN, BROOKLIN HUNT
Throughout the years, ORI has hosted countless interns from around the world. Imagine our surprise when a curious naturalist and budding veterinarian came to us from just down the road!
Brooklin Hunt is not your average teen. As a high school senior, she would rather be in the field banding owls, hunting with her family, mapping out her future as a veterinarian, or working on advanced research projects. Brooklin is one of those unique youngsters who knows, without a shadow of a doubt, what she is made to do. So when she came inquiring about an internship possibility, we just couldn't say YES fast enough!
This summer, Brooklin fulfilled a dream of attending a Raptor Management summer program through Cornell University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. What follows is her first hand account of the experience she had there and what lies in store for her future.
For now, Brooklin is focused on school work, assisting with ORI research projects, and managing our social media presence. She is a busy girl with a bright future. We will enjoy her can-do attitude and bright smile around the ORI until she leaves for her next great adventure. Brooklin is a true gem!
A DREAM COME TRUE
In 2015, my interest in Cornell University was sparked by Nat Geo’s TV series: Vet School. The series outlined the hustle and bustle of the life of a typical veterinary student at the school, giving me insight to my future as a vet student. As I began researching Cornell, I fell upon the website for their Summer College program for advanced high school students and immediately told myself, “I’m going to go there”.
After that, the journey began. I applied and was accepted to the program two years later, as a junior in high school. After being accepted, I realized I would really need to fundraise; tuition alone was over $6,000 for the three-week Captive Raptor Management and Propagation program I’d be attending. So, I got creative with my fundraising tactics. I’ve always worked for everything I’ve gotten, so I felt using “GoFundMe” or simply asking for donations would’ve been cheating. Instead, I started making and selling dog biscuits. My fundraiser provoked lots of laughs from my classmates, and many people unfortunately mistook my dog biscuits for peanut butter cookies prior to tasting them, but it was a major success and I was able to pay my parents back for over half of my tuition.
This July, I finally left for my highly-anticipated Summer College trip. I stayed on campus for three weeks while I attended morning lectures daily and afternoon labs at the Cornell Raptor barns twice a week.
During lectures, I learned about raptor identification, biology, veterinary care, management, conservation and history. In the last week of the program, we were lucky enough to learn from the head zookeeper of the avian propagation center of the San Diego Zoo. He taught us many skills, like the parts of an egg, leatherworking for falconry, and how to tie special falconry knots. Most of the information I learned was directed towards raptors in captivity but was also applicable to raptors in the wild, including owls. Also, I completed a final paper about wind farms and their effects on wild raptor populations as well as a presentation on mercury poisoning of the Osprey in Montana.
Although our lectures were interesting, the labs were much more fun and engaging. During our labs, we learned how to properly clean the aviaries, and prepare quail, chicken and day-old chicks for the raptors to eat. We even learned how to candle an egg, which is a technique for monitoring embryonic development prior to hatching. Also, we learned how to handle hawks and owls (see photos). Through the handling labs, I got to know each bird at the Cornell Raptor Barns. Of course, being an intern at the ORI already, I preferred the owls over the other raptors. I met three Barred Owls (Oscar, Luna and Buddy), a Great Horned Owl (Gertrude), a Short-Eared Owl (Oliver), and one Eastern Screech Owl (Wesley). I was lucky enough to handle almost every one of these owls, each of which have some sort of disability or miscellaneous reason as to why they can’t be released.
Aside from the fun labs we did, we also went to the Syracuse Zoo, the famous Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Treman Park, and several random ice cream parlors for field trips. My 23 classmates and I grew into more of a small family over the three week course, teaching each other about where we were each from. Both in and out of class I made friends from all over the world; Uruguay, Brazil, Italy, Venezuela, Hawaii, South Korea, the United States, and China.
Overall, Summer College was more of a success than I ever imagined. Between the learning, exploring, new friendships, and beautiful places I visited, attending the program was one of the most unique journeys I’ve ever had - I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I am extremely excited to continue my education at the Owl Research Institute for the remainder of my internship and to attend college next year at Montana State University.