Animals

Tips for Picking the Perfect College Pet!

Danny in front of fishThere’s no argument that the number one thing all college kids absolutely love is animals. There’s nothing like flock of students who sprint to pet a newly discovered dog on campus. Often students think about getting a pet of their own for companionship and stress relief. In some cases, these decisions turn into great human-pet relationships while in others a complete disaster. Having cared for and owned practically every available pet in the book here’s some advice on getting a new companion during your college career.

Firstly, you should note that the on-campus housing limits you to nothing besides a fish tank less than 30 gallons total per room (10 gallons per person). Off campus housing is much more ideal for keeping pets.  Be sure to check with your landlord for their pet policies and if there are extra required costs before getting a new companion.

Fish: A+ College Rating

My 10 Gallon "UConn" Fish Tank.
My 10 Gallon “UConn” Fish Tank.

I always like to start with fish because they’re one of my favorites groups of animals and often underrated. Not only are there a wide variety of species, colors, and temperaments but many are relatively easy to care for. One of the greatest things about fish is that they are always inside an aquarium. Unlike other animals, like snakes, fish generally stay inside the tank and you won’t have to worry about one frolicking through your dorm or apartment building if they get out!

Fish are an ideal choice of pet in college and a great stress reliever. Watching fish tanks has been proven to lower stress levels and relax people with anxiety. Entire fish tanks can be set up for under $100 and require low maintenance. Small 10 gallon kits are available at local pet stores and are great for easy to keep bettas, tetras, guppies, and other small freshwater community fish. If you are more interested in Continue reading

The Story of Buttercup

Buttercup and Alyssa at the Dairy Show
Buttercup and Alyssa at the Dairy Show

I spent a lot of time in high school and the beginning of college worrying that I would never find anything that I was passionate about. Everyone made such a big deal about it—counselors and teachers were always encouraging us to pick a major or career that we love. When I was applying to college I intended to be a nursing major, but once I got in I promptly changed my major to chemistry and then again to biology. Nothing felt right. I was getting closer—I knew I liked the healthcare industry but I wasn’t quite there yet. Finally—I don’t remember how I came to this realization—but I figured out that I wanted to work with animals and not people. I came to UConn officially as an animal science major, with the intention to go to veterinary school. Still, this just didn’t feel exactly right, but I was getting closer, so I stuck with it.

During the spring of my freshman year, I received an e-mail about participating in a dairy show, no experience necessary. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I went to the meeting anyway.  I knew I needed some experience with large animals if I wanted to be competitive for vet school. I learned that I would pick a dairy heifer, train her to walk and set up, groom her, and finally show her in front of a judge in a few months. They had a list of names of the animals we could choose, and I picked a random one: Buttercup.

I started working with Buttercup a few times a week, and every time Continue reading

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn”

Hanging out with Prince before lessons!
Hanging out with Prince before lessons!

Last semester I had the opportunity to intern at the Camp Care Inc. Therapeutic Riding Program in Columbia, CT. Since I am minoring in Therapeutic Horsemanship Education, I was required to learn the basics of running a therapeutic riding program and being a therapeutic riding instructor. Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to work with many different riders and instructors. Besides learning about why we do certain stretches with our riders, how to work with riders who may decide they don’t want to ride anymore mid-lesson, and safety practices for if things go awry, the Camp Care program gave me much more than I ever anticipated.

On my first day I met Kirsten, one of the riding instructors and my new mentor. She welcomed me with open arms and made me feel as though I’d been there for years. She quickly “taught me the ropes” and I jumped in with two feet. The barn work was easy to get used to, especially coming from a horsey background. I knew the basics of feeding, cleaning up, and exercising horses. What was completely new to me was working directly with the riders. Although I was a camp counselor for a few years at my local horseback riding camp, I had never had the opportunity to work with children with special needs. Continue reading

Backyard Biodiversity and Sustainability

UConn Heron
A heron standing at the edge of UConn’s Swan Lake

As we walk around campus we seldom think about the ecological diversity that surrounds us. Each structure, flowerbed, and field at UConn has a different biodiversity than that of neighboring communities, suburban areas, and the planet as a whole. All of these ecosystems are interdependent and affect our health and livelihood, but it is no secret that we are consuming more natural resources than the earth can sustain. As an Animal Science major with a minor in Wildlife Conservation, I have been able to explore how all species adapt to physical and environmental changes. The biggest threat to biodiversity is habitat loss due to the effects of natural and human-induced factors such as agriculture, over exploitation, and industrial pollution. After taking a course in wildlife management, I learned a lot about the different techniques used to influence the plant and animal species that progress in a given territory. I began to develop a passion for sustainable living and actions that can increase earth’s biodiversity.

The perfect place to begin creating a stronger ecosystem is your very own backyard. It is not crucial to distinguish the specific biological needs of all plants and animals, but there are essential elements for most species. The four basic needs for wildlife include food, water, shelter, and nesting. The first step is making a plan that suits each asset of the yard. Consider potential habitats and water sources for different species. Target species may include animals that are endangered or of special concern. The second step is implementing suitable horticulture practices. Get rid of invasive species and cultivate plants native to the area. Planting trees and shrubs provides sources of food and shelter for wildlife. Allowing them to grow up to different sizes will attract a plethora of species that can Continue reading

A Few Not-So-Typical Reasons Why I Chose UConn

Thinking back to senior year brings back all the stress of having to choose where I was going to go to college. After submitting applications, waiting to hear back, and then having the list of schools from which to choose, I thought the decision would be a lot easier than it was. As someone who really struggles with decision making, choosing where I was going to spend the next four years of my life was not a walk in the park. Clearly, I ended up here at UConn, but my reasoning might not be what you’d expect. Here are a few reasons why I chose UConn:

Emily and SportsSports. It may sound strange to hear that sports were a major factor in my decision of where I would go to school, after all, I am here to study. But, growing up as an athlete, attending high school games, and watching professional sports on TV, while begging my Dad to take me to a Patriots game, I knew it was something I couldn’t live without. I wanted a school where it is normal to wear UConn gear head-to-toe, or scream and jump around my room when I win the lottery for basketball tickets. I wanted to be somewhere that I got chills watching the teams play and maybe even cry when we win a national championship (for the fourth time in a row). I wanted a school with so much spirit that no matter what team was playing, people were always watching. So far I can say that UConn has lived up to my expectations of what it would be like at such an athletic school, but I wouldn’t mind if Continue reading

My Journey as an Animal Science Major

Kelly and a sheepKelly and a horseComing to UConn has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. Animal science has meant the world to me since I was 5 years old so when I got accepted into UConn I was very excited. However, as a young freshman I did not know exactly what this major was all about. I knew I was going to be learning about animals, anatomy, nutrition, etc. but I never knew that I was going to have the opportunity to start hands-on experience right away.

When I started my journey in the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture two years ago, I had the opportunity to work a lot with animals through some independent studies. My freshman year, I also took an intro to ANSC course where I had to pick an animal to train. I was assigned a horse, which I thought would be amazing since I have never worked with horses before so I thought it would be a great opportunity to start learning about horses my first semester in college.

My first day training my horse, Tamale, was fun. I remember I groomed her that day, but when I was about to leave she stepped on my toe and it was one of the most painful things in the world. I couldn’t walk or stand on that toe for a while. At the time I did not know how to take the bus so I walked to all my classes on crutches. However, if it wasn’t for my little accident with the horse, I would not have been reassigned to a chicken, where I won first place in the Poultry advance category at Little I. My sophomore year, I had another unfortunate experience while Continue reading

Making the World a More Compassionate Place, One Product at a Time

Me and one of the eight puppies that my dog had last May. He loves Horsebarn Hill and UConn!
Me and one of the eight puppies that my dog had last May. He loves Horsebarn Hill and UConn!

For many people, going to college is their first taste of an adult life. You have to work around your own schedule, make your own meals, and you can’t pile up your laundry until your mom ends up eventually doing it. In the midst of all of these daily activities, in combination with balancing school, health and a social life, it is hard to find time to invest in other activities, let alone something as basic as shopping for makeup and beauty products. However, what many people do not realize is that their choices at the store actually affect much more than just their lives. Being aware of the products that you are buying and using could save hundreds of animal’s lives.

As an avid animal lover, I always feel a huge amount of remorse any time I accidentally step on my cat’s tail or leave my dog home alone for more than a couple hours—an emotion that I know many other individuals can relate to as well. Nobody I know would ever want to purposely hurt a little rabbit or any other animal. Despite this, millions of mice, rodents, dog, cats, and farm animals are mistreated and actually killed each year due to brand testing that is done behind closed doors, funded by purchases made by all of us in our day to day life. Although this is hard to hear and a problem which is impossible to eradicate all at once, very small lifestyle changes can actually have a huge impact on Continue reading

AquaLife Club- Get Your Fish On! Plus tips for keeping your pet Betta happy and healthy

Aquarium“No pets except for a 10 gallon fish tank.” For many UConn students this was a sad thing to see when first going through your housing requirements. The thought of leaving fluffy the bunny or max the dog at home is almost too much for some students. Even for me, an animal science major, the thought of not being able to bring my collection of feathery and scaled creatures was daunting. But I wasn’t too nervous, as setting up and running different aquariums had been a hobby of mine for many years. So much so that I decided to capitalize on UConn’s pet rules by starting a club that educates students about the aquarium hobby by building its presence on campus. By October of freshman year I was submitting my constitution and other required paperwork for my new organization. Not much later AquaLife club was born with a stellar executive board made up of a few of my recently made friends and none other but Dr. Steven Zinn, the head of of the Animal Science Department, as our advisor.

Aqua-Life Club LogoIn the past semester our club has grown into a fully functioning student organization with almost 30 active members, weekly meetings, and our first fish tank project on the schedule. One of the main goals of the club I hoped to achieve when I first formed it was to install and maintain aquarium of different kinds around campus. Almost like the Animal Planet show Tanked but on a smaller scale. I thought the tanks could help with stress relief on an already hectic campus, as fish are proven to help calm humans and ease anxiety, all while increasing knowledge of the hobby. Our first tank will be a 29 gallon freshwater community tank and will be placed in the Animal Science Department.

I’m hoping AquaLife club will continue to grow and long outlive my career at UConn. It’s a great example that at UConn you can start a student organization from nothing if you have the passion for it and it is not already offered. Continue reading

Heels Down. Chin Up. – How Horseback Riding Impacted My Life (For the Better)

Hanging out before our practice with Dennis at the 2012 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.
Hanging out before our practice with Dennis at the 2012 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.

As a 10 year old girl in middle school I decided to finally “grab the reins” in fueling my horse obsession and begin taking horseback riding lessons. Ten and a half years later, I would have never thought that I’d be riding and competing at a collegiate level. Throughout those years spent at the barn I’ve learned many things that have shaped me into the person I am today. It all began in 6th grade, when I would clean horse stalls three days a week as a trade for riding lessons. While my friends were socializing, I stayed at the barn so I could work for as many lessons as possible. If I wanted something, I would have to work for it. I’ve learned to apply this lesson to many aspects of my life, for example, getting good grades, being accepted to college, and getting a job. I feel that life is very easy (and boring) when things get handed to you all the time; but working hard and earning something makes the results that much better.

Riding also instilled in me the 2 P’s: patience and practice. There’s a saying “if you’re not a humble person, your horse will make you one;” truer words have never been said. Horses help prove to every rider that when something goes wrong, 99% of the time it’s the riders fault. At first I would think, “I fell off because my horse twisted the wrong way” rather than “I fell off because my leg was WAY out of position.” Nobody made me fall off but myself. I try my best to apply this same concept to my life in general. Got a bad grade? It’s not the teacher’s fault. I just need to study harder. Didn’t get the job I wanted? I need to think about what I can do to improve myself in order to be a better candidate. Learning to stay humble and exercising my Continue reading

Gators and Tigers and Kids, Oh My!

Fred and I after the Crocodiles and Alligators presentation
Fred and I after the Crocodiles and Alligators presentation

If there were one word to describe the summer of 2015 for me, it would be “unexpected.” I never anticipated the degree to which my internship at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo would positively impact my life.

I had known of the zoo’s summer internships since the spring of 2014. However, I didn’t apply until this past winter with the help of a good friend and fellow applicant. We both applied for the Animal Care and Education internships. The Animal Care internship allows interns to indirectly work with the animals (categorized as Predator, Hoofstock, Farmyard, or Rainforest) through tasks such as diet preparation and feeding, enrichment, and some training. The Education internship entails caring for the education animals (reptiles, rodents, small mammals, and birds). It also includes activities such as conducting on-site presentations to school children and educational talks at the zoo.

Me practicing proper alligator restraint with Fred
Me practicing proper alligator restraint with Fred

Ultimately, I was selected for a more flexible Volunteer Office internship. Although this unexpected decision was disappointing at the time, it would turn out to be a blessing in disguise. This internship was only 2 days per week, which allowed me the extra time needed to succeed in my Physics summer classes. My main responsibility was to stand at various animal exhibits and present about the respective animal to the public, utilizing satchels that contained fact sheets about the animals and “bone clone” model skulls. Later in the summer I assisted with Zoo Patrol. In this one-week program, children ages 6-14 hear zoo keeper talks, receive behind the scenes tours and hands on learning, animal enrichment activities, and participate in games and crafts. I also was able to learn about Predator and Rainforest diet preparation through my friends in the Animal Care internship. Finally, I had the privilege of learning one method of alligator restraint with Rainforest Reptile Shows (Fred, the alligator I am pictured with, was part of a roadside “zoo” for many years and was only fed hot dogs, causing him to develop metabolic bone disease. With the care of Rainforest Reptile Shows, he is now healthy and well). Continue reading