Written by: Isabel Gisondi
Christine Lambert, a junior at Delaware Valley University, started out as an Animal Science major because she always wanted to be a veterinarian. She wanted to work with animals and “have a career where I feel like I am making a difference.” However, the number of hours that vet school required was a drawback for Lambert.
Through her time and experience at DelVal she soon discovered a similar career working with animals that did not require as much time and stress as veterinarian school that was a better fit for her. Working with wildlife was a better option for Lambert and she believes she can help bring about positive change.
“With the direction our world is going in now,” said Lambert, “wildlife is impacted negatively as we increase our population.”
Lambert explained that the Wildlife and Conservation Management major is not always focused on zoos and fairs. In fact, it’s more focused on rural or “back-country” settings. The right approach is to recognize that students are entering into other species’ natural habitats. Students within the major focus on questions like “Are humans impeding on this species? If so, in what way can we reverse or elevate it?” In addition, the major explores climate change, as well as issues that might stem from human consumption that could lead animals out of their habitats or affect their needed spaces or ability to breed properly.
“Sometimes you cannot reverse the effects, but you can think of ways to help so that this animal can live as naturally as possible. In more practical terms, that can look like international trading and traveling that introduces new species including plants or insects to new areas,” she said.
As part of her learning journey, Lambert participated in DelVal’s Experience 360 Program. The E360 Program “prepares students to solve problems, integrating classroom knowledge with real-world experience”.
In fact, all students participate in some type of real-world experience before graduation. For Lambert, it was an opportunity to work at a local non-profit organization called Last Chance Ranch, which is dedicated to rescuing neglected and unwanted equines, farm animals, and pets. Despite her time there, Lambert found her coursework to be more helpful towards her goals. Sometimes experiencing something first-hand is a great way to rule it out if it’s not a good fit.
“It did help me in the sense that I was like, ‘Yeah, this is not the route I want to go in.’ I was more passionate about working with wildlife animals that aren’t domesticated. It brought up thought-provoking questions of what I was doing and learning and how that could apply to my future,” explained Lambert. “Working with different species that are so important, but no one cares about because they are not fluffy and cute is super important to keep an ecosystem rich in its diversity.”
Lambert shared her personal thoughts about the E360 program saying “I support and I really like the DelVal E360 program and I think without it, I wouldn’t have felt as motivated to venture out of the University for more experience to really apply what I’m learning in my classes to a career field or set myself up for success after I graduate,” said Lambert. “I think E360 sets DelVal apart from other colleges in the way that they advocate and push their students to venture outside of the university for hands-on experience, or even within the university.”
After graduation, Lambert’s priority is to keep her options open because wildlife field jobs are very competitive. Some are seasonal and short because one works with the wildlife on an as-needed basis.
“You have to be willing to travel and to be flexible with your time and the location where you’ll be assigned,” she said. “Ideally, in the long run, I see myself being a wildlife biologist, I just need to figure out what direction I want to go with that. I have a really awesome internship with the PA Commission lined up as a wildlife management intern.”
Like so many students approaching graduation, Lambert hopes her internship experience will help give her more career direction and help build connections so she will be able to answer more confidently about her future.
“I’ll be doing something different every day. I will be working alongside different biologists and doing some work with habitats as well. Not every day will deal with wildlife. It could be removing invasive shrubs or vegetation to plant native vegetation that supports wildlife in that area,” said Lambert.
Out of 25 applicants, five were interviewed, but Lambert landed the internship. She was nervous during the process, but offered good advice: “If something scares you, that should fuel you even more to try it. In our 20s we are the freest we will ever be in our lives, learning independence, how to pay rent, cook meals, and just everything we will spend the rest of our lives doing,” Lambert said. “So, if something scares you, do it. Ask yourself why it scares you and then go after it anyway.”