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Walsh discovers passion for wildlife education

By Margo Fritz ’15

Maureen Walsh ’13 came to Cornell intending to follow a pre-med track, but she soon realized chemistry was not for her. Fortunately the flexibility of the block plan allowed her to quickly shift gears. She changed her major to biology, where the coursework and faculty helped her find a passion for wildlife education.

Maureen Walsh '13

Maureen Walsh ’13

“I go ask them weird questions and they’re happy to answer,” said Walsh. “Without the staff and faculty here, I don’t know what I’d be doing.”

A key moment came when a favorite professor, Lenny Gannes, taught a course on bird migrations in Israel. Walsh couldn’t say no to the opportunity, and after weeks of hands-on learning she emerged with a newfound desire to work with animals.

This desire took her to the Blank Park Zoo in her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, for a pair of internships. Her first summer was spent teaching children about animals as a Summer Safari intern. The next summer she worked as an animal presenter for the zoo’s education department.

With the Blank Park Zoo internships under her belt, Walsh was able to secure a two-block internship at the nationally renowned Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Neb. Here Walsh worked in the education department, leading lessons about wildlife.

After graduating Walsh plans to return to the Blank Park Zoo and continue her interest in working with animals.

“I would like to do outreach and education. I love taking animals out–it’s the best way to teach people about the animals and the importance of conservation.”

In her time at Cornell Walsh also explored a range of activities beyond the classroom. She became involved in Student Senate, the Delta Phi Delta sorority, Greek Council, Lunch Buddies, and Mortar Board. She was also a mentor for a biology class, and helped with New Student Orientation for several years.

“I love the students and the organizations–I think we have a unique group here,” she said. “The sense of community is so much stronger and more supportive than anywhere else I’ve been.”

Maureen Walsh’s highlights

  • Summer internships at two major zoos
  • Student Senate
  • Delta Phi sorority and Greek Council
  • Lunch Buddies
  • Mortar Board
  • New Student Orientation leader