Southeast Student Spreads Her Wings at World Bird Sanctuary

Diederichsen_willtodoCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 24, 2015 –For Southeast Missouri State University senior Allyson Diederichsen of St. Louis, bright colors, wild creatures and swooping birds are all part of a day’s work at her summer internship with the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, Missouri.

“I have always had a love of animals, and the World Bird Sanctuary is a great place for that,” she said. “I used to foster dogs and cats, and that started me on the road to working with animals.”

That love exudes from her as she tends to the animals at the Sanctuary. An animal science major, Diederichsen nurtures birds, snakes and mammals, feeding them, watering them and carrying them.

“I got to carry a bald eagle, and it was a wild bald eagle. It was so cool,” Diederichsen said.

The World Bird Sanctuary is one of North America’s largest facilities for the conservation of birds and is located on 305 acres of oak hickory forest where it cares for more than 200 animals. Just off the intersection of Interstate 44 and Route 141 in Valley Park, the Sanctuary is dedicated to preserving the earth’s biological diversity and to securing the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments. The Sanctuary fulfills that mission through education, captive breeding, field studies and rehabilitation.

The World Bird Sanctuary delights audiences during scheduled events by showcasing large, wild birds rescued from the wild. Depending on the time of year, visitors to the Sanctuary can see Bald eagles, turkey vultures, snowy owls, barn owls, screech owls, kookaburras, sandhill cranes, white and brown pelicans, Peregrine falcons and pit billed parrots.

Diederichsen’s internship offers her the opportunity to work alongside the executive director of the World Bird Sanctuary, Walter Crawford, Jr., a Southeast alumnus and a dedicated ornithologist, who founded the Sanctuary in 1977.

In addition to caring for the animals, Diederichsen helps in other ways with events to promote the Sanctuary, develop and raise interest in the birds and showcase those housed there. She says the Sanctuary takes birds “anywhere people want more knowledge” about them, including places such as county libraries.

“The Sanctuary is a great place to work,” she said. “It’s fun but a lot of work.”

Diedrichsen learned about the company and its internship program during a visit to the World Bird Sanctuary. After learning more, she decided it would aid her in broadening her horizons.

“Birds are something different from what Cape offers,” she said. “It’s a different viewpoint and gives me a variety of animals to work with.”

She says Southeast set a firm foundation for her to spread her wings during her internship.

“If you love animals, pick animal science. They (Department of Agriculture faculty) enjoy teaching about every animal to students. My advisors helped me prepare, and I record what I do,” Diederichsen said. “They are close to their students. It’s nice that they are interested in what you do and that they like to know what you are doing.”

Diederichsen is interning with the Sanctuary for 12 weeks this summer and is considering applying to work there after she graduates.

“Find an internship early on,” Diederichsen advises. “Apply everywhere. If you are a freshman; do as many (internships) as you can.”