Wacky Wallabies

Kayla Petersen
September 17, 2015


            After arriving home from Rarotonga (our IES field trip), I felt extremely ready and excited to start up the second term of classes. I lucked out and was able to schedule all my classes on Wednesday and Thursday, which left 3 days of the week free for adventures and opportunities. My friend Sydney has been volunteering at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and had told me about what a great experience it has been for her. The reserve is not only extremely holistic, but also very cultural by incorporating Māori history throughout the exhibits. With my Monday free, I called up the reserve and made an appointment to get signed up to begin working and taking care of the wonderful animals. It was a simple trip by jumping on one of the public transport buses and being dropped off directly in front of the reserve. Immediately friendly faces welcomed me in, and within a quick half-hour I was signed up and ready to get started!

            It was nice having my friend Sydney ride on the bus with me to the reserve on Monday. She made me feel like I had a grasp on where to go and what to do on my first day in. The volunteer led me to the zoo area, which ended up being exactly where Sydney had been stationed, so we worked as a tag team throughout the whole day. Our day consisted of either preparing meals for the animals or shoveling up the poop from the lemur areas. As Sydney and I were shoveling poop she looked over and asked me, “how did we travel all the way to New Zealand and end up shoveling poop in a monkey exhibit”? We laughed a lot and even though it was gross, we ended up having a lot of fun!

            After our hard work of running around and preparing the meals for all the animals, it was finally time…time to go feed the animals! Before walking in, she briefed us on rules to follow around the animals and how to interact with them, and then in we went into their exhibits. All the animals were extremely friendly. For the first time, I had a little lemur licking pieces of banana and apples off the tips of my fingers. By the end of the day, we got the chance to feed some of the wallabies, which was my favorite part!! They hopped over, grabbed my hand and started munching on the little pebbles I held out. It was a long hard day of work, but it was one of the most rewarding days I’ve had so far here in New Zealand. I really don’t know why I didn’t get involved at Willowbank right away because the place is amazing! Now I find myself really looking forward to every Monday that rolls around! 

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Kayla Petersen

<p>I&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">am a sophomore at Miami University in Ohio. I major in nutrition and have a concentration in Dietetics. &quot;Home&quot; is&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">wherever I feel happy, and for that I find my home in many places. After undergrad I plan on taking part in a Dietetic&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Intership that will last about a year and then take the RD exam to become a Registered Dietitian. I am apart of the&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Miami tribe, and hope to give back and work with the tribe after I become a Registered Dietitian. I am hoping that my&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">experience in New Zealand will help lead me to better understand how culture plays a role in people&#39;s health and diet.</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">The Maori tribe plays a crucial role in being able to research and compare the different revitalization efforts from the&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Miami tribe.</span></p>

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