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To gain hands-on experience, make professional connections, and develop intellectually and personally–these are the motives behind Lycoming College’s support of enhanced academic experiences. While many college students return home for the summer, students at Lycoming are encouraged to seek out and apply to internships, one student being Hannah Seebold ’24, biology major in the pre-veterinary medicine program. This summer, she interned at T&D’s Cats of the World, an animal sanctuary located in Penns Creek for unwanted, abused, and mistreated exotic pets and animals.
“I chose to spend my summer at this refuge because it gives me the opportunity to work with a variety of animals,” Seebold said. “When applying for vet school, it is really important to have a wide diversity of interests on your resume, and being at T&D’s has really opened my eyes to the potential of veterinary care outside of domestic species.”
Seebold grew up visiting the animal sanctuary as a kid and learned to appreciate its animals and mission. With support from her academic advisor, Jeffrey Newman, Ph.D., professor of biology, and from career advisors with the application process, Seebold got accepted.
“I was always curious about working with Pennsylvania wildlife in a rehabilitative state,” Seebold said. “When I found out that not only tigers and lions live here but also deer, foxes, and other animals you might find in the wild, I was really interested and wanted to get my hands on.”
As an intern, Seebold gave tours around the facility to families on weekdays. Additionally, she learned about the animals and performed the designated care for each one, which included approaching the animals without startling them, cleaning enclosures in a safe manner, preparing meals based on nutritional and dietary requirements, feeding, and participating in rehabilitation efforts for PA wildlife.
“I really enjoy the internship because I feel a strong sense of appreciation from the animals that I care for,” Seebold said. “Although animals cannot pay me or physically say ‘thank you,’ the animals have their own way of showing gratitude for the care that myself and the other interns and volunteers provide.”
As a project for all college interns, T&D’s Cats of the World started an animal enrichment project, in which students research and create objects to mentally and physically stimulate the animals at the sanctuary. Whether it acts on touch, smell, or any of the other five senses, the enrichment project engages animals with tasks to release their natural instincts.
“Enrichment is a really important part of a wild animal's daily day in captivity,” Seebold said. “In the wild, they are either hunting, looking for food, or building a den. In order to keep an animal stimulated in captivity, we have to keep them entertained.”
For her project, Seebold worked with firehose material donated by a local fire department and designed a cube that can be filled with treats.
“I ended up giving my enrichment toy to one of the gray wolves,” said Seebold. “This specific wolf is incredibly food aggressive, so we weren’t sure how she would react to the stimulus. Upon giving her the toy, she sniffed it and turned her attention towards us, likely expecting food. She approached the toy after my supervisor and I walked away, and she snatched it up, ran straight into her den, and started chewing on the firehose.”
When she was not working at T&D’s Cats of the World, Seebold worked as a veterinarian technician assistant at an animal hospital. From her combined experience, Seebold decided that she wants to pursue the study of small animals, along with native PA wildlife care and rehabilitation. Following graduation, she plans to apply to veterinary schools, advance to graduate school, and become a veterinarian.