Between training bald eagles, wildlife rehabilitation alum visits students

November 21, 2016

Alongside fellow colleagues, Brad Skinner spends each day tending to birds of prey at the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

On Thursday, November 10, Skinner—a May 2015 Lees-McRae Wildlife Rehabilitation Program graduate—spent the day with students, talking about his experiences since graduating and helpful tips for those looking to pursue a career in wildlife rehabilitation.

The American Eagle Foundation, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Bald Eagle and other birds of prey, according to the organizations website.

Foundation employees work daily to weigh, feed, train and sometimes perform alongside the birds.

Skinner said he likes working at the AEF because he not only gets to take care of the birds both when they are healthy and sometimes sick, but because he can educate the public while doing so.

“We want to educate the public and tell them why we do this,” Skinner said. “But we also want to make sure we help out as much wildlife as we can.”

When Skinner first came to Lees-McRae, he said he was a little uncertain of the path he would take, but having always been an animal lover he decided to pursue a degree in wildlife rehabilitation.

Both for Skinner—when he studied at Lees-McRae— and the many students that study at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center currently, having experiential opportunities like phone triage, initial patient assessment, medication calculation, diet preparation, wound care and surgical assistance solidified their passion for wildlife.

“When I first worked at the rehabilitation center I became the most fascinated with the birds of prey (hawks, owls, falcons, etc.),” he said.

After graduation, Skinner went on to complete an internship with the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (or most commonly referred to as “CROW”) on Sanibel Island, Florida.

The clinic works to rehabilitate a large variety of sick, injured and orphaned animals and release them back into the wild.

Some of the animals the clinic sees most are opossums, cottontail rabbits and raccoons. 

Following his internship at CROW is when Skinner began working at AEF.

“Waking up every morning realizing you get to glove train hawks, owls, eagles, falcons (and other birds of prey) …and being able to see the animals I work with (everyday) puts a smile on my face,” Skinner said.

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