Growing up, I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I would watch the vet shows on Animal Planet. I also had a small zoo in my house- dogs, cats, fish, parrots, hamsters, and an iguana. I’ve always loved animals and I wanted to take care of them. I found out that you needed to be in college for a long time to become a veterinarian and my dreams were crushed. It seemed too long to be in school and I wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Fast forward to present day. I had an internship with Edison Wetlands Association; I updated their blogs, wrote stories, etc. One day, while updating their blog, I came across an article that talked about Freedom Center for Wildlife. After reading that article, it sparked my interest again in helping animals. I read more about the center and I decided that I wanted to volunteer. Six-year-old Monica was overjoyed with excitement – I was going to live my childhood dream!

I have been volunteering at FCW for a year now (with a short hiatus while I was in school this past semester) and I couldn’t be happier. I love the fact that I get to take care of
squirrels, bunnies, opossums, ducks, various types of birds, etc. I learn so much as well, such as how birds have a lot of air sacs and how bloating occurs in small mammals.

While taking care of the rehab animals, I also get to work with owls and hawks. The first time I held Phantom, our barn owl, I couldn’t stop smiling. He is such a gorgeous bird, and I was overwhelmed. I’ve always loved the large birds of prey. They are so strong, powerful, and beautiful. I also enjoy when I get to attend the education programs and then I get to educate others on birds. It was truly a dream coming true.

As mentioned, I’ve volunteered here for a year and I hope to volunteer for many more years to come. I really enjoy it and look forward to it every week.

By: Monica DuFour