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Career takes wing

Photos courtesy of Amelia Nolan

UD alum turns experience with AmeriCorps into job after graduation

Amelia Nolan, a 2015 graduate of the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do after college, but she did know one thing for sure – she wanted to work with birds.

“I have always had a passion for birds; they’re amazing to me,” Nolan said, recalling her time at UD and a trip to Tanzania with Jacob Bowman, chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology and Nolan’s undergraduate adviser, where she studied taxonomy and identification of African species of birds.

“Dr. Bowman was extremely influential to me. It was literally like we were bird watching for a straight month, which only strengthened my crazy obsession with birds,” said Nolan.

Following graduation, Nolan and her family looked into moving to the West, home to many ski resorts and enthusiasts, just like her.

She was living in Wisconsin, doing a wildlife rehabilitation internship, and soon learned about AmeriCorps, part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that fosters community service and provides a variety of different programs and ways to get involved. Then she landed her first volunteering experience at the Teton Raptor Center in Wyoming in January 2016.

Nolan lived at the Teton Science Schools, a school system rooted in Wyoming whose primary focus is to educate by putting a high priority on the outdoors and the physical environment, during her service term.

By the end of her service term in September, she found out about an educational position opening within the Teton Raptor Center.

“I didn’t think I was very qualified for the educational one because it said you have to have 2-3 years’ experience with people. I worked at a nursing home for eight years, but that was only a narrow scope of people. But that is the great thing about AmeriCorps, you don't necessarily need the experience in the field you are applying to,” Nolan said.

During Homecoming weekend of last year, Nolan was on her way back to Delaware to reunite with her fellow alumni when the center contacted her to tell her she had gotten the position. “It was unreal, I almost turned the car back around right then,” she said.

Nolan now has been working as the program assistant at Teton Raptor Center for the past year, teaching the public about the importance of birds and working at raising interest in raptors.

Every day has something new to offer, and since the beginning of her time with Teton Raptor Center, they have conducted over 400 different programs on-site and off-site, including at Grand Teton National Park.

“There is no typical day, every day is different here,” Nolan said.

Of working with AmeriCorps right after graduation, Nolan said that she highly recommends the program.

“This past year was probably one of the best experiences of my life. AmeriCorps brought me to the Raptor Center where I am now. It was one of those experiences where I can now say I have a friend in every state. I have met so many people along the way,” said Nolan. 

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