Rising senior Holly Troesch stands in blue, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium shirt and holds a small owl.

Monkeying around: biology major makes animal encounters educational in zoo internship

Created: August 12, 2022  |  Last Updated: September 16, 2022  |  Category:   |  Tagged: , ,

WASHINGTON, PA (August 12, 2022)—Rising senior Holly Troesch works with a bunch of animals. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

A German and biology double major, Troesch has spent the last several months serving as an animal ambassador & conservation education intern at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, and engaging with animals to educate the public on the wonders of wildlife.

“I love this internship,” said Troesch, who received a Magellan-Franklin award to fund it. “I work with the conservation education team to maintain and care for a collection of over 50 animal ambassadors, and they are each unique in their own special way.”

Ever-collegial critters, animal ambassadors are the cuddly and crawly compatriots that participate in public education programs at the zoo. As a zoo intern, Troesch aids in the observation, feeding, cleaning, record-keeping, handling, and even presentation of these animals.

“I get so excited to talk to people about our animal ambassadors,” Troesch said. “My favorite part of the internship is going to outreach programs for local schools and community centers…to educate the public about the wonderful wildlife of the world and the importance of zoos.”

Having developed a passion for wildlife education through a previous internship with the Carnegie Science Center’s Animals & Habitats Department, that propensity for the public is no surprise.

“Wildlife care and conservation is an important factor that keeps our planet functioning,” Troesch shared. “I believe that it is crucial for our local communities to understand that importance.”

Apparently, her supporters believe it’s crucial for Troesch to communicate it.

“My professors are so knowledgeable and…supportive,” Troesch said, noting the particular influence of biology professors Dr. Jason Kilgore and Dr. James March, and modern languages professors Dr. Judith Atzler, Dr. Michael Shaughnessy, and Cathy Altmeyer. “They have taught me that if I am really, truly passionate about something, that I should put my mind to it and explore that passion.”

Interning at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is allowing her to do that.

“This experience is teaching me so many things,” Troesch said. “My supervisors and fellow staff members at the Pittsburgh Zoo…have all shown me the tricks of the trade and how to be the best animal handler, keeper, and presenter I can be.”

With plans to pursue wildlife care and conservation education as a career, Troesch hopes those skills will continue to come in handy.

“I want to incorporate educating the public about scientific topics,” she said, “so that our community can be more knowledgeable and aware of what’s happening around them. Everyone at W&J has encouraged me to do my best, chase what I love, and take risks. I am glad I took the advice because I am now confident that I can reach my goals!”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pa., is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness, and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu or call 888-W-AND-J.