It was one summer day in Fresno, and classes had recently begun for Fresno State students. I was enjoying my day on campus, when I noticed the Community Service Opportunities Fair in full swing in front of the Kennel Bookstore. I thought to myself, “It’s my junior year. I should start getting some experience in my field!” I immediately walked over and explored my options at the fair. I came across a table with a sign that read “CAT HAVEN”. Well, to be completely honest, they had me at “Cat”. From there, my life had drastically changed. Project Survival’s Cat Haven is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of wild cats. Their focus is to educate those on endangered cats and raise funds for conservation and research. I started volunteering with this organization back in October of 2016, and it’s been an exciting time ever since. I had the opportunity to serve as a Docent: running the gift shop, leading tours, and educating guests on the plight of wild cat species. For seven months, I would dedicate every Saturday in accomplishing these tasks. In June, I moved to a Keeper Intern position, spending two days a week serving the cats of Cat Haven. It brings a smile to my face knowing I get to help care for 31 beautiful, exotic cats. The organization has done so much, not only for their own animals, but for cats out in the wild too. In the last fiscal year, Cat Haven was able to send out $100,000 towards conservation efforts. Cats are important for maintaining ecosystems, just like any other wild non-human species; so, for me, it is important to serve non-profit organizations, like the Cat Haven.
I have spent countless hours serving Cat Haven and I do not regret any second of it. I had the ability to learn, grow, teach, explore a field that I study, and absorbed the opportunities that were embedded with it. As my internship comes to an end, I am eager to continue on as a trained Keeper volunteer, dedicating my time weekly to this great organization.
What service areas would you like to explore to help guide your career path? How has service experiences helped you in setting your future goals?