UBC Okanagan student Brooke Bailey recently returned from a two-month volunteer stint in South Africa, where she nursed baby elephants, tracked cheetahs and worked alongside veterinarians involved in wildlife conservation and management.
Volunteering through a group called Edge of Africa, the fourth-year Bachelor of Science student majoring in biology spent the first month at an elephant sanctuary in a town called Knysna, located in an area known as the Garden Route.
“We worked with orphan elephants and my primary role was to feed the babies,” she says. “The second volunteer opportunity was at the Garden Route Game Lodge – a large reserve with lions, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. They also had a cheetah breeding program where we would track and monitor cheetahs that had been bred in captivity and released into the wild.”
Bailey hopes her experience in the field will help her reach her dream of being accepted into veterinary school, which she describes as a highlycompetitive process.
“I’m trying to gain as much different experience with as many different animals in as many different countries as I can,” says Bailey. “I love working with the vets. It’s something in my blood..”
Bailey’s African adventure was made possible through the UBC Okanagan International Education Travel Subsidy. Eligible students are required to raise funds for a portion of their expenses, as well as submit a proposal detailing their desired international learning experience. Students may receive up to $4,000 in support, provided by the Irving K. Barber Endowment Fund.
“The International Education Travel Subsidy is designed to provide students the opportunity to gain experiential learning in an international setting,” says Linda Hatt, Associate Dean, Curriculum and Student Affairs. “These opportunities reflect the founding principles of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences – in particular, to prepare students to become outstanding citizens of B.C. and the world.”
In addition to Bailey, three other UBC students received the International Education Travel Subsidy in 2009:
Allison Tremain, a graduate student, developed a preliminary watershed assessment for Fair Trade Carbon Ltd. and learned about reforestation in southwestern Uganda.
Natalie Melaschenko studied savanna ecology through a UBC field course at the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya.
Lauren Bytelaar is completing courses in Norway and Uganda, and will conduct a case study of the relationship between annual and seasonal rainfall and malaria incidence in tropical East Africa.
To see video footage of Brooke Bailey’s trip to Africa, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/UBCOPeopleFromHere#play/uploads/1/VRYnKCaNgD4.