The Birds and Bonn: An Awesome Animal Conservation Internship

I participated in the Bonn internship program during the spring semester of 2015 and could not have been happier with my decision.  I knew I wanted to continue getting hands-on experience in the animal field, especially in zoos, and the very dedicated program director, Hartwig Prüßmann, worked tirelessly to make that possible.  He was able to secure a placement for me with the bird curator at the Kölner Zoo!

The Bonn program was extremely organized and allowed me to learn in non-traditional ways, and although I had studied at a Germany university prior to this, my German improved more in my three months in Bonn than in the entire prior six months.  The professors for our two courses were great as well, and I was so impressed by their knowledge in their respective fields.  Our excursions were always fun, and it’s interesting to see new cities and visit them in ways your typical tourist wouldn’t.

I also opted for the host-family situation.  I lived with a lovely host-grandma and I’m very thankful for it.  We ate dinner together every night and did little trips or nights out as well.  We are still in contact and may even be seeing each other again soon!

Most importantly though, this internship really had an impact on my future – one that I wasn’t expecting when I applied.  Near the end of the internship, I was beginning to consider applying for a Fulbright grant and, with the connections of my boss at the Kölner Zoo, was able to find a researcher at the Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria who was willing to sponsor my research project for the application.  Nearly 12 long months later, I was accepted into the Fulbright Austria program, and without the network I made in Bonn, it might never have been possible!  It goes to show that just a few people and happy circumstances can have a huge effect on your life!

Erin Netoskie, Juniata College Class of 2016 (Cologne, spring 2015)