Make The Connection

October 30, 2017 | By Gopika Nair ’18

Izzy Sommerdorf ’18 spent six weeks as a volunteer at the Wildlife Friends Rescue Center in Thailand. She earned an OWU Theory-to-Practice Grant to support her experience. (Photo by Izzy Sommerdorf)

Wildlife Rescue in Thailand

Theory-to-Practice Grant Supports OWU Zoology Major’s International Experience

Name: Izzy Sommerdorf ’18
Major: Zoology
Minor: English
Hometown: White Bear Lake, Minnesota
Experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant, “Conservation Efforts with Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand” 

Sommerdorf volunteered at the Wildlife Friends Rescue Center in Thailand for six weeks to expand her understanding of mammal conservation, animals within their natural habitats, and wildlife protection. While volunteering, she created diets and enrichments for different species and learned about the various ways animals are stolen from their natural environments and forced into the exotic pet trade.

Lessons Learned

“Volunteering at the Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand was an incredible experience and encouraged me in the knowledge that I have found myself in the right field. 

“Having the ability to work hands-on with animals from different backgrounds and to have the chance to truly come to understand their behaviors and needs is something I will never forget. The experience has inspired me to follow a future career path that I now know, for sure, I would be more than happy to find myself in. 

“Even during my free time at the foundation, I found myself gravitating toward talking to Pin, who has provided care for the animals [for a year] and who taught me to understand and respect the animals in new ways. I am so thankful that Pin allowed me to speak with her so often, and I know I would be honored to care for and understand animals as she does in my future careers. 

“Working directly with these animals helped me learn so much about the different behaviors they can express and taught me how to better understand why animals sometimes act the way they do. 

“I’m excited to use this experience in the future as I begin to work with animals after graduating from Ohio Wesleyan.” 

Zoology major Izzy Sommerdorf ’18 (left) says volunteering in Thailand helped to solidify her future plans of working with animals. (Photo by Izzy Sommerdorf)

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I originally looked at OWU because I knew that I wanted to major in zoology, and so I only looked at schools that offered the program. 

“OWU wasn’t actually my first choice, but I stopped by to visit the campus and honestly just fell in love. There were multiple programs and opportunities that I hadn’t seen offered at any other schools that really made this school stand out to me. I remember Theory-to-Practice Grants were one of those opportunities, so I’m really thankful I was able to earn one in my time here. 

“Another one of those unique things were the Small Living Units. Now, I live in Citizens of the World House, and I’m so thankful for my incredible housemates. It’s like having a family here in Ohio. 

“By the time my visit was over, I knew OWU was where I wanted to be. I was accepted into other schools as well, but at that point, it no longer mattered. I only had OWU on my mind.” 

My Plans After Graduation

“As of yet, I don’t have specific plans after graduation. Volunteering in Thailand helped me realize that I definitely want to work with animals in the future, but I’m still figuring out what that will mean.”