CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 16, 2015 – Having just completed her first year at Southeast Missouri State University, Kasie Krupski of Imperial, Missouri, is ahead of the pack as she takes her love of animals to Tennessee for a summer internship at the Nashville Zoo.
Krupski always knew she wanted to work with animals. Even when enjoying one of her favorite pastimes, photography, she would find herself at the St. Louis Zoo using animals as her subjects. During one of her trips to the zoo, Krupski was able to talk with the zookeepers about their profession and took a strong interest. She switched her major from pre-veterinary to agribusiness with a focus on animal science and began researching internships.
“Most people said, ‘you’re so young, there’s no way you’ll get an internship,’” said Krupski, who is a semester ahead having earned dual credit taking honors courses in high school. “But Dr. Weathers, my animal science professor, asked how she could help. Right away, I knew I could turn to her for anything. She wrote letters of recommendation for me and pretty much held my hand through the whole thing, encouraging me to keep applying. When Nashville [Zoo] called and said they were hiring me, I was more than excited.”
Nashville Zoo is a progressive and dynamic zoological park and an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited facility with international conservation involvement. With more than 800,000 visitors annually, it is the number one attraction in Middle Tennessee. As part of her internship there, Krupski assists the zookeepers and works directly with the training, cleaning and feeding of animals.
“What Nashville Zoo does different than most is breed and hand raise their babies. They’re more hands on with animals than most zoos,” said Krupski. “I love that even as an intern, I can interact with animals and get to know them. Each one has a different personality, and it’s fun getting to know which one is this way and which one is that way.
“An example would be the red river hogs,” she continued. “Since these were raised in captivity, they are very social. We have one male at the zoo that loves his belly scratched (kind of like a dog). Every time I come in their barn and grab the backscratchers, he runs in circles and will flop on his back right by the gate. The funny part is when you stop, but still stand by the gate, he will lift his head and give you the saddest look because he knows it will sucker you back into scratching his belly.”
In addition to red river hogs, Krupski is able to work with other unique mammals such as elands, tapirs and bongos.
“My favorite thing about the internship is being able to learn about these exotic animals on a closer, more hands-on level,” she said. “I am using it as a window to see the opportunities for the future. I love it. I can’t see myself doing anything different.”
Krupski encourages students of all ages to pursue internship opportunities.
“It doesn’t matter what age or how far along in school you are, if you put yourself out there, there will be people who notice. Even if you get ‘no’s’, just try and try again and eventually you will find people who say ‘yes’,” said Krupski.
“Growing up, we were taught that you go to college, then you get a job. But in today’s society, it doesn’t exactly work like that anymore,” she continued. “Soon-to-be graduates need recent experience for interviews. The more experience you have walking into an interview, the more impressive you look and the stronger candidate you are. For other students, [an internship] helps verify if that is something you really want to do for the rest of your life so you have time to change it if not. If it is something you see yourself doing, you have plenty of time to build up a great resume with all the experience you were able to do.”
At Southeast, Krupski is a member of the Agriculture Club, Farm Bureau Club, Pre-Vet Club and Gamma Sigma Sigma.