Wildlife educators work in all types of settings such as wildlife stations, zoos, national parks, etc. Their primary job consists of educating people of all ages on a wide variety of subjects that pertain to animals and/or their care.
People who aspire to become wildlife educators should exhibit strong interest in animals before taking the plunge and planning to become one.
Many employers, such as the Staten Island Zoo, prefer that their wildlife educator staff have plenty of educational experience in this field. For example, the applicant must be able to display a 2 or 4 year degree from an accredited university or college in one of many different approved areas. Acceptable areas of study include education, biology, veterinary technology, environmental science, zoology, and any other related field.
Many employers prefer that students have a background or experience in wildlife education, but it is not always necessary. Experience with animal husbandry is most times a major plus, but again, it’s not always required. Getting as much hands-on experience with animals will help tremendously with landing a job with an employer, and there are many places you can do this. For example, volunteering at shelters, becoming a volunteer at a veterinarian clinic, assisting a local wildlife rehabilitation center, and helping out on ranches or farms are all viable choices for gaining experience.
As you would probably expect, there are also qualities that you must possess that will make it easier for you to become a wildlife educator.
1) It must be easy for you to work with children. Many wildlife education courses will be populated with children. Why? Because children love animals! If you prefer the absence of children or don’t particularly enjoy talking to them, this could present a problem down the line.
2) You must be comfortable with public speaking. Wildlife educators’ jobs center around getting up in front of large groups of people and talking or presenting for long periods at a time. It’s a good idea to get as much experience as possible in public speaking so that it becomes second nature for you.
3) You must possess superb communication skills You will be speaking to strangers for the better half of your job. It is imperative that you learn how to connect with and engage different types of people.
4) You must be comfortable and patient with animals. Of course, it’s a no-brainer that you need to possess an interest in animals before you can sign on with a position such as a wildlife educator.
5) You must be able to express the ability to develop curricula, lesson plans, and schedules. As a wildlife educator, you will be spending a great deal of time teaching. This means you must have a strong knack for designing schedules and lesson plans.
6) You must possess the skills to maintain the hygiene and upkeep of the animals and their environment/housing, respectively. A few house-cleaning skills don’t hurt either. You need to be able to keep animals and their environments clean to ensure the safety of both the animals and those around them!
Overall, education, experience, and a particular skill set are the keys to landing a career in wildlife education. Grab applications from various wildlife centers and zoos to find out about the particular requirements for their wildlife education positions.