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BrittanyBrittany Blackwell – North Carolina State University – BS Environmental Science

Hi! My name is Brittany Blackwell and I am from Raleigh, North Carolina. I recently graduated from North Carolina State University (Go Pack!) with a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science. I previously volunteered at Carolina Tiger Rescue, a non profit wildlife sanctuary in Pittsboro, North Carolina. During my time there I gained animal care experience working with tigers, lions, and leopards, among a variety of other carnivore species. I found out about Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refugee when a previous Turpentine Intern (Kelly Farrell) was hired as staff at Carolina Tiger Rescue. I am both grateful and excited to have the opportunity to continue working with rescued animals as part of Turpentine Creek's 2014 spring intern team. In the future I hope to be hired as animal care staff at a sanctuary facility similar to Turpentine Creek where I can pursue my passion working with exotic cats.

ElizabethElizabeth Elliott – Iowa State University – BS Animal Ecology

Hi my name is Elizabeth Elliott. I'm so excited to be here at Turpentine Creek! I can't believe that I get to spend every day at this amazing place. I graduated from Iowa State in December with my degree in Animal Ecology. For the past five years I have studied, researched, and learned about conservation and more specifically wildlife biology.  My love for animals developed as a kid cuddling with my cats and dogs! Since going off to college I've worked with animals from skunks to bobcats. Working as an intern at Turpentine will allows me to develop as an animal care specialist. I hope to attend grad-school for wildlife biology and become a field biologist.

JackieJackie Golevicz – Western Illinois University – BS Zoology

Hello! My name is Jackie Golevicz and I'm from Bartlett, Illinois. This is my first internship and I'm beyond excited to be here at this beautiful refuge! I graduated in May 2013 from Western Illinois University with a Bachelor's Degree in Zoology and a minor in Animal Science. I have a background working with canines at a boarding/training facility and volunteer experience at Peoria Zoo. I learned about Turpentine Creek from a Zoology bulletin board at my school my freshman year. It has been my dream for the past 4 years to intern at this amazing place. My goal for the future is to work at a similar refuge/sanctuary with large carnivores.

CaitlinCaitlin Loving – Western Illinois University – BS Zoology

Hi my name is Caitlin Loving. I graduated from Western Illinois University in December with a degree in Zoology. I learned about Turpentine Creek during a visit to Arkansas, where I was able to visit the refuge. I fell in love with the refuge and everything that was being accomplished. I’m so happy that I am now able to be a part of the team and the future accomplishments. Before I came here I did some volunteer work with my school's Zoology Club and with Hearts of Hancock Humane Society. I have always loved being around animals and have wanted to help be a voice for them for as long as I can remember. My goal is to help abused and neglected animals find a safe and happy life; with everything I am and will learn here I’m able to get closer to my goal. I’m very excited for the next six months here!

LaurenLauren Mattina – SUNY Binghamton – BA Environmental Studies

Hi! I'm Lauren and I'm one of the new interns at Turpentine Creek. I graduated from Binghamton University in New York in 2012 with a degree in Environmental Studies- Ecosystems. During my time in college I took several trips to southern Africa to do research on behavior and populations for lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs. After college, I was working with domestic cats and dogs when I saw the posting for Turpentine Creek's internship online. I knew this was an opportunity I had to take and am so excited to learn more about exotic cat care in a refuge setting. I hope that all my experiences will allow me to work on African wildlife conservation in the future.

RobynRobyn Melechinsky – SUNY ESF – BS Wildlife Science

Hi, my name is Robyn Melechinsky. I graduated in 2012 from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Science. I previously interned at Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, in Kendalia TX, where I gained hands-on experience rehabilitating Texas native wildlife. However my passion has always been to work with large carnivores, and after hearing about Turpentine Creek from a friend I knew I needed to apply. I’m very excited to be here and I very much look forward to the next six months working with large cats and bears for the first time ; this is a life and career changing opportunity that I am so grateful to have. After my time here I hope to obtain a working position at a sanctuary or refuge, with similar values as TCWR, where I can continue to learn all there is about large carnivore care.

ChristineChristine Pick – University of Tennessee at Martin – BS Natural Resources Mgmt

My name is Christine Pick and I came to Turpentine Creek from Memphis, Tennessee. I recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources Management with a concentration in Wildlife Biology. I have always enjoyed working with animals, starting when I was sixteen at a veterinary clinic for dogs and cats. I expanded my experience by interning and working a seasonal position at the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee, working with tropical birds and birds of prey as well as domestic and exotic hoofstock species. I found out about Turpentine Creek from another zookeeper I worked with, who recommended the facility. By working at Turpentine Creek I hope to gain experience with large carnivores, so I can eventually work as a zookeeper in order to aid in conservation and education with the public. I am very excited to learn more about these amazing animals and to be able educate people and to help these animals to continue to survive in the wild.

MarinaMarina Raya – Humboldt State University – BS Wildlife Mgmt & Conservation

Hello, my name is Marina Raya. I recently graduated from Humboldt State University with my Bachelor’s in Wildlife Management and Conservation. My past experiences include working with dogs when volunteering at an animal shelter and working with native species (grey fox, raccoons, opossums, geese, and birds) when volunteering at an animal rehab facility. I’m so excited to intern here because I’m surrounded by exotic cats! Every day is exciting here, I get to spend time with amazing cats and bears. My life-long dream has been to work with jaguars and ocelots and I hope that interning here will give me the experience I need to impress potential employers. I would absolutely love to work for Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative (JCI). This initiative works toward creating a genetic corridor connecting jaguar populations from Mexico to Argentina.

BradBrad SoRelle – Hendrix College – BA Biology

Hi, my name is Brad SoRelle and I am from Waco, Texas. I graduated from Hendrix College in Conway, AR with a bachelor's degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. During college, I participated in volunteer research in South Africa and Tanzania studying lions, cheetahs, and human-elephant conflict. After graduation, I worked at Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge as an invasive species intern. Although this gave me great experience, it did not give me the close up work with large predators for which I always longed. I recalled Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge which I visited on a freshman orientation trip in college. Upon visiting this website, I knew what I wanted to do for the next six months of my life. I hope for this to give me great experience for my future in wildlife studies. I am so fortunate to work here with great animals and great people with this great organization.

TaylorTaylor Tvede – Cornell College – BA Environmental Studies/Biology

Heyo! I’m Taylor Tvede. I’m originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico but studied at Cornell College in Iowa. I graduated in May of 2013 with a degree in biology and a degree in environmental science. I’ve always been a big fan of all things animals and I’m particularly interested in wildlife rehabilitation and animal education. During my time at Cornell I was able to study abroad with sea turtles in Costa Rica, coral reefs in the Bahamas, and birds in Israel, and during the summer months I traveled around working as a camp counselor and participating in internships. I’ve spent the last year in the southern states working at sea turtle rehabilitation centers. I really love the ocean, but I’m glad to be living in the mountains again for a little while. This is the first time I’ve been able to work with felines and I’m pretty pumped to expand my animal experience to include big cats and I’m excited to tell our guests how awesome they are.

SarahSarah Valecko – San Diego State University – BS Biology

My name is Sarah Valecko; I received my degree in Biology with an emphasis in Zoology from San Diego State University. I previously worked at Sea World San Diego. I also volunteered for two years at San Diego Humane Society and SPCA.  One day I was passing by the biology counseling office and saw the flyer for TCWR at my college. I decided it would be a great opportunity to gain amazing experience working with exotic animals.  Because of this internship, I am now able to care for these incredible animals at the refuge.

MaggieMaggie Williams – University of Cincinnati – BS Biology

Hi, my name is Maggie Williams and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a BS in Biology of Animals. It has been my dream to work with animals my whole life, big cats in particular. I started off my experience working in an animal behavior lab at UC studying the mating behavior of wolf spiders. After the lab, I got a job as an animal handler and educator at the Cincinnati Zoo. Yet again, this was another awesome experience getting the chance to work with all types of animals from snakes and lizards to owls and armadillos. While working at the Cincinnati Zoo I also started volunteering with the keepers in the elephant and giraffe houses. When I got accepted into the internship program at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge I couldn’t believe it. I never thought I would be accomplishing such a big dream of mine at such a young age. This place is amazing in what they stand for and what they do and I can’t wait to gain much more experience here at TCWR.

AmandaAmanda Baker – Cal State Univ. Stanislaus – BS Biology - Second Internship

Hi, my name is Amanda Baker. I graduated from California State University Stanislaus, with a BS in Biology with a concentration in Zoology. I have been interested in working in the animal field since I was in grade school, and have worked towards reaching that goal ever since. My experience began in high school which included working with domestic animals in various rescue groups. Since graduating college, I have furthered my knowledge and training by interning at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge where I gained experience with medical training of tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, and bobcats. Most recently, I interned at Micke Grove Zoo where I gained experience working with birds of prey, and a variety of primates. I learned of the internship at Turpentine Creek through a zookeeper that I was fortunate enough to work with. This will be my second internship at Turpentine Creek, and I couldn‘t be more honored to stay and continue my work at the facility. It has been an amazing experience, and I look forward to what is to come.

HannahHannah Corbin – Central College – BA Biology - Second Internship

Hi, my name is Hannah Corbin. I have a degree in Biology from Central College. I have had an interest in working with endangered animals since my freshman year in college. I previously have done research on amphibians and bats in looking at extinction rates in the state of Iowa. I have also volunteered at Pella Wildlife Company where I worked with Black bear cubs, bobcats, wolves, and eagles. In hearing about the internship opportunity at Turpentine Creek, I jumped on the chance to join such a great team. Since joining TCWR I have had an amazing time educating the public and being proactive in helping raise awareness for exotic big cats. I look forward to every morning being greeted by their chuffs!! Working here at TCWR has helped me follow a dream of mine and a dream that I will continue to pursue.

JeffJeffrey Gross – Univ. of Rhode Island – BS Wildlife & Conservation Biology
Second Internship

Hello, my name is Jeff Gross. I have a bachelor's degree in Wildlife Conservation and Biology from the University of Rhode Island. I am very excited to be here in the mountains of Arkansas. This is absolutely beautiful country full of new and interesting critters I've never had the opportunity to see. I have previously interned with the Nature Conservancy/URI on the behaviors and breeding habits of the Northern Harrier, the US Fish and Wildlife service doing conservation work on the Piping Plover and the RI DEM surveying the beaver population of Rhode Island. It has been my dream to work with big cats, tigers in particular, since I was a teenager. Everything I have seen and experienced here at TCWR is amazing and I'm proud to have been chosen to be a part of this program for a second time.

StacyStacy Selko – University of Nebraska-Lincoln – BS Animal Science
Second Internship

Hi, my name is Stacy Selko. I graduated from the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Animal Science. My past experiences are mainly with domestic animals and include working for two different boarding facilities for dogs and cats where I held leadership positions. This past summer I worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a student intern for Companion Animal Science. During this internship, I had the opportunity to be able to work with the 4-H youth program and help give educational clinics about domestic cats to the youth. I have always had a love for animals and have been eager to expand my knowledge with exotic animals. My goal is to be a zoo keeper and work in conservation education. I am excited to have the opportunity to stay on for a second internship here at Turpentine Creek and continue caring for the animals here that I have grown to love.

DanielleDanielle Zylstra - Iowa State University – BS Animal Science
Second Internship

Hi! I'm Danielle Zylstra. I graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor's degree in Animal Science. I have experience interning with wildlife critters and working with domestic animals and livestock. I've always had an interest in working with animals and after hearing about Turpentine Creek, I knew this was the place to be. I would like to end up working in a sanctuary like TCWR or in a zoo, and I feel like this internship is a great place to start. I'm excited to get my second internship started!

SamSamantha Bieck – Cornell University – BS Biology
Third Internship

Hi, my name is Samantha Bieck. I have a degree in Biology with a concentration in Animal Physiology from Cornell University. I have previously volunteered as an animal caretaker at the Cayuga Nature Center caring for a variety of wildlife animals. I have also spent time at a number of veterinary clinics working mostly with small animals and horses. I have always wanted to work with animals and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with big cats for a third internship.