Brittany Harris’ passion for animal health isn’t limited to dogs, cats and other household pets. Harris wanted to reach beyond the ordinary, and she certainly found it at Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Bay Lake, Fla.
Harris, a Memphis native and spring 2016 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin, recently completed almost eight months of internship work with the park, where she served as a conservation educator to help guests understand the various species housed in the facility.
“I was stationed all around Animal Kingdom spreading conservation messages and animal knowledge while conducting interactive activities with guests,” she said. “I assisted with the development and presentation of interpretive guest experiences that inspire wildlife conservation action.”
Harris also helped many guests conquer fears of various species, including arachnids, during her time in the park. By offering an interactive experience with these animals and providing background information on the habits and needs of each species, Harris was able to help guests understand the creatures they previously feared. She was also able to conquer her own fear of arachnids by personally caring for tarantulas and scorpions while on the job.
This experience stems from an encounter with a Disney recruiter while Harris was still a student at UT Martin. A member of the UT Martin chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, Harris joined her fellow members at a business conference in Jacksonville, Fla. It was there that she first learned of the opportunities available through Walt Disney animal programs.
Harris was studying animal science but had not considered the new career options addressed in her internship. The skills she developed while at Animal Kingdom have given her a new outlook on potential fields.
“This internship has helped me with my guest services (skills)…. I was involved with hands-on animal work (before), but I didn’t think of educator or conservation as a career path until after my Disney internship,” she said.
Now, Harris is working as a dog trainer apprentice to hone her skills with companion animals and improve her training abilities. She eventually wants to become a zoo keeper and return to exotic animals on a larger scale.
Those interested in Disney internships in all fields can visit jobs.disneycareers.com and search for available positions.
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