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July 15, 2009

Shedd's Steve Irwin fellow

480P8260 The Steve Irwin Fellowship complements Shedd Aquarium’s mentor programs for Chicago high school students interested marine science careers. The three-week program includes a week at Shedd shadowing animal care staff members and two weeks in Australia gaining hands-on experience at partner zoological institutions. Katie Dziedzic, the third recipient of this prestigious fellowship, filed this report of her amazing experience:

I traveled to Australia and visited two world-renowned zoos, the Australia Zoo, in Brisbane, and the Taronga Zoo, in Sydney, to expand my knowledge of the zoological sciences and to learn about wildlife conservation as envisioned by the late Steve Irwin. At each zoo, I worked with a variety of animals right in their exhibits and assisted with day-to-day tasks. Through the Australia Zoo, I also got a close look at the Australian Wildlife Hospital’s rescue and rehabilitation operation for koalas and other native animals and even went out with its animal rescue unit, which gave me a better understanding of conservation issues concerning the country’s famous marsupials.

At the Taronga Zoo I observed the ways animals interact with each other and their environment with the zoo’s animal behaviorists, and I saw how the marine mammal department staffers train their animals. I also talked with scientists at the Australian Marine Mammal Research Centre in Hobart to learn about their many projects to protect and conserve whales, dolphins, seals and dugongs. I made a side trip to Lady Elliott Island to gain a more rounded perspective of ways in which I can make a difference and to appreciate Australia’s natural beauty.

This experience has furthered my passion for wildlife conservation and given me a new perspective on my career plans. I learned a great deal about another country’s efforts to improve the way animals live and the way we treat the world around us each day. And it was truly remarkable to work in the place where Steve Irwin established his conservation program. I’m thankful for such a rewarding experience. And I am proud to have represented Shedd Aquarium, Macquarie Group Foundation, the Australian Consulate and Steve Irwin’s legacy on this trip of a lifetime.

Posted by Karen Fernweger, web editor

The Steve Irwin Fellowship is supported by the Australian consulate-general in Chicago and the Macquarie Group Foundation.

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