Just recently, I had the pleasure of meeting virtually with our organization’s summer intern cohort and the opportunity to meet several interns in person at our Taking Action for Animals conference. I look forward to these meetings in every internship cycle, and so do the senior colleagues who participate in it with me. It really lifts our spirits to see how intelligent, dedicated and engaged the participants are, and we frequently joke that every one of the interns seems more impressive than any of us were at the same age. More importantly, these interactions make me feel good about the future of our organization and the animal protection movement as a whole.
Our staff involved with the internship program organize appropriate goals and objectives in concert with the interns in their charge. Many of our current employees served as interns with us or with other organizations, and they understand the importance of the program. We hope our internships are a true stepping-stone to future lives of advocacy, and maybe even employment, within animal protection.
Just as the interns make a commitment to us, we make a commitment to them. In addition to their duties within specific departments, our interns benefit from tailored development plans, weekly presentations, including a workshop to help them learn self-care principles and ways to maintain emotional resilience, one-on-one career development discussions with human resources staff and networking opportunities with staff members.
But the heart of the program, of course, is the interns’ placement and work within individual teams while they’re with us, our interns are part of our most pressing campaigns and efforts for animals. The activities of our summer 2022 interns show just how important their work is.
In Media Relations, for example, Margaux has played a critical role in telling the story of our historic beagle transport, updating media lists and responding to public inquiries about adoption, while Josh has helped to edit and proofread a broad range of outward-facing materials, including tweets, pitches, responses to reporters and even blog posts like this one!
In Wildlife Protection, Abby, Joni and Gretchen have been hard at work sifting through data collected from state wildlife agencies across the U.S. regarding human-caused deaths of black bears and human-bear conflicts. Their efforts will support our work to promote human-wildlife coexistence and to protect black bears from trophy hunting.
Jordan and Sydney, our vet tech interns at Black Beauty Ranch, have also learned and accomplished a great deal. Among other tasks, they’ve conducted lab work aimed at ensuring the health of the animals, assisted with field observations and procedures, supported veterinary examination and treatment activities, helped to fill prescriptions and investigated the merits of drugs for osteoarthritis in animals.
In Pennsylvania, Freddi, an intern with our State Director, testified at the Millersville borough council meeting in support of a puppy store ban ordinance, and visit offices in the capitol building to discuss a hostile bill with legislators and meet with her representatives and the Speaker of the House to mention some priority humane bills. I loved the write-up on Freddi’s activities, which suggested that her internship has allowed her to not only further a passion but also to grow as an advocate and really find the power behind her voice.
Interns with the Humane Society Legislative Fund and our Animal Protection Law, Business Development and Companion Animals departments (some of whom made it to our Taking Action for Animals conference this month) have also been working on high-impact projects that contribute to our mission.
I’m glad to share that our internship program has taken important steps to be more inclusive. For example, in 2022, we began paying our HSUS interns, to make it clear how much we value them and their contributions, and to make participation in the program more viable for a wider range of candidates. Also, in the era of virtual work, we now offer more remote internships so that interns can advocate for animals from wherever they are.
Perhaps most importantly, we’ve recently committed to increasing the diversity of our intern program because this form of inclusiveness only further benefits the animal protection movement now and in the years ahead. With my colleagues, I see this as an investment in future leadership, in better work for animals and in a stronger and broader movement for a more humane and compassionate world.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.