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My dream careers are centered around wildlife rehabilitation and conservation. However, I am not sure what the best majors and minors are for this field (environmental science, biology, wildlife conservation, etc.). Has anyone had this same experience? Can anyone who has these careers give me advice for what to major and minor in?

#biology #career #science #major #environmental #wildlife #conservation #job #minor

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M’s Answer

Hi Izabel, I think it would be a great idea for you to find people who are already working in these fields and see what kind of education they have. If you have a zoo or conservation center nearby, I would reach out to them. Most people who are established in their careers love helping others get to where they are. I would also use sites like LinkedIn to find people who work in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation. LinkedIn is a tremendous resource when it comes to networking, connecting with people, and seeing what credentials people have.

In addition to that, I've done some research to try to give you some answers as well. The National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association " recommends a college degree in biology or ecology. The curriculum should include ornithology, mammalogy, animal behavior, ecology, and related wildlife and environmental subjects" (https://www.nwrawildlife.org/page/Education_Requirements#:~:text=For%20most%20rehabilitators%2C%20NWRA%20recommends,related%20wildlife%20and%20environmental%20subjects.).

This page from The Wildlife Society also includes information that I think you might find helpful - https://wildlife.org/next-generation/career-development/where-to-get-your-degree/
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! Izabel
Thank you comment icon Happy to help! Let me know if I can be of further assistance to you. Good luck in your journey! M B
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Mitzi’s Answer

There are several colleges that offer degree's in Conservation, of course having a degree specifically in Biology would be immensely helpful. I would suggest also considering a minor in something like Computer Science. A lot of the systems used for tracking wildlife and data collection / analysis need people who can not only maintain, but understand how to use and improve these systems. Sometimes, these little extras really can help make you a well rounded candidate and set you apart in your field. You can also Google local state rehabilitators, many are more than happy to help you gain experience hours which you need to apply to become state certified for wildlife rehab. This can also help you get real hands on and gain insight into the field, the good things, and the bad things. I'd also recommend reaching out to your local conservation agency and ask if they do internships. Best of luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice. Izabel
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JOHN’s Answer

First you might consider volunteering with a local wildlife rehabbber - I used to be in charge of issuing wildlife-rehab permits in Texas, and most rehabbers are volunteers. Volunteering with a rehabber will get you some experience, as well as connections who can advise you. Do look at the NWRA web link that M sent you.
Wildlife conservation usually does require degree, though there are 'technician' jobs that just require experience with tractors, forestry or ranching equipment.
And M and Mitzi are right - there are many colleges that offer conservation and ecology degrees. For example, Ohio State offers a degree in Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife (within their School of Environment and Natural Resources). I went to Michigan State for my first fish & wildlife degree.
Do keep in mind that some wildlife-degree programs are in Biology /Ecology departments while other universities have them in schools of Agriculture (which often include Forestry or Range Management departments). The first kind of college focuses on 'natural science', while the latter considers wildlife as 'natural resource' management.
The coursework is largely the same, but the natural-science path focuses more on environmental issues, lab ecology, and the ecology of habitats around the world. (For example, if you're interested in the tropics or ecological work in other countries, a natural-science degree might be better.) If you;re more interested in hunting and fishing, or working for a state or federal agency, then the natural-resource approach may be better.
I think a general biology can work - it qualifies you for jobs that require a degree, but won't be as competitive as an ecology, conservation or wildlife degree. On the other hand, the broadness of a biology degree is useful if your career goals are open and you'd consider medical, genetics, teaching, or lab work.
Building on M's suggestion, courses like mammalogy, ornithology, etc. will give you a good understanding of the ecology, needs and behavior of animals.
If you're really interested in wildlife rehabilitation, you might consider a veterinary degree (or pre-veterinary degree that prepares a person for continuing to vet school). That would give you more insight into the anatomy and medical treatment of animals. Or you might be able to work in some vet classes into a wildlife/conservation degree.
I hope this helps some.

JOHN recommends the following next steps:

Visit with a wildlife rehabilitator; seek their opinion.
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