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Alexandria Talley

alexandria talleyAlexandria (R) giving oral medication to a turtle at the Khon Kaen Zoo

 

Q&A: International Agriculture Certificate Student’s Internship in Thailand

Alexandria Talley, a fourth year Avian Biology major, spent the summer in Thailand working with large animals, exotics and elephants.  Alexandria is a pre-vet student who has always wanted to work with wildlife and animal sanctuaries.

How did you learn about the International Agriculture Certificate Program?

Amanda Stephens gave a presentation about the International Agriculture Certificate Program in one of my first-year classes. I talked to Dr. Bart, Vicki and Amanda and they helped me find an internship in Thailand that best suited my interests.     

What activities did you engage in during your internship?

First, I worked in the Large Animal Department in the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences at Khon Kaen University, which is in northeastern Thailand. I worked with three or four veterinarians, who were conducting surgery, mostly on cattle. I also visited local dairy farms, recording data on each cow and checking for injury or illness, such as respiratory problems. After Khon Kaen University, I worked at the Khon Kaen zoo. Each day, we traveled throughout the zoo checking on animals. In some cases, we were assessing the animals’ mental health, while in others we were treating infections or other physical health issues. We also cared for animals in a special ward that could not be displayed due to severe injuries. After the zoo, I worked at Lampang Elephant hospital, where I was able to completely focus on working with elephants.

What was your favorite activity?

Maybe the zoo. I liked the elephant sanctuary as well, but there was more hands-on work at the zoo and a wider variety of cases, giving me lots of learning opportunities. Also, I love birds and the zoo has an aviary! I would go there during my free time to bird watch.

What do you miss the most about Thailand?

I miss the friends I made in Thailand because it’s hard to communicate with them from the U.S., except through Facebook. I miss the other interns I met at the zoo, the students I met at the hospital, my host family’s sisters. They are all great.

How did this experience affect your future career aspirations?

This experience solidified my idea that I want to work in wildlife and conservation settings. Having a sanctuary dedicated to one type of animal, like the elephant sanctuary, is very interesting, too. Engaging in research at those kinds of sanctuaries can be really valuable in helping that population. Without my experience in the elephant hospital, I would not have even known that this kind of research institute exists.

Would you recommend the International Agriculture Certificate Program to other students?

I definitely recommend the certificate program. First of all, the required internship is a minimum of eight weeks, which is longer than most of the study abroad programs. Also you travel independently, which immerses you in the culture. Maybe one of the most important reasons is that the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences offers so many scholarships. Had I not gotten them, I could not have done this. The scholarships (Asia-Georgia Internship Connection Scholarship, Gilman Scholarship and Experiential Learning Scholarship) not only enabled me to complete the internship, but also to travel during my free time! I traveled to the northwestern and southern parts of Thailand, as well as to Singapore and Hong Kong. I got to see a wide scope of different cultures thanks to the scholarships.