Animal Intern Ashley Wechsler Pursues Her Dream Job
Like many kids, when she was young Ashley Wechsler dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. Now as a junior at Wheaton College (Massachusetts) and an Animal Care Intern for Florida Oceanographic Society, she’s put herself on a path to make that dream come true. Ashley is at the Coastal Center two days each week June through August as our Animal Care Intern. She will return for two months over winter break, which will bring her volunteer service to about 160 hours in total.
“My time here and the activities I’m doing have definitely confirmed for me that I’m in the right field,” says Ashley, who is majoring in biology and minoring in animal behavior and environmental studies. “I’ve always had a special place in my heart for animals, and I’ve loved getting to know all of their personalities here. My favorite right now is a little fish – he’s a Brown Grunt that pops his nose out and spits water at me whenever I come by his tank.”
Ashley is an only child who grew up in Dallas, Texas. She and her parents moved to Vero Beach a few years ago, so Ashley’s spending her college summers and quarantine times in Florida. She has always loved snorkeling with her dad, and recently earned her diving certification. At school, she is on the women’s ice hockey club team and involved in several environmental groups and other campus clubs.
At the Coastal Center, Ashley prepares all the meals for the stingrays, sea turtles, sharks, fish, invertebrates, and assists with their feeding during most of the daily programs. She also cleans tanks. One of her favorite jobs involves animal behavior: Target training of the nurse sharks in the Gamefish Lagoon. Target training is an essential aspect of animal husbandry, and allows their caretakers to do visual health checks, give vitamins and medications, and make sure every animal can get the proper amount of food. Ashley hides the nurse sharks’ big vitamin pills in sardines.
“This has been such a great experience for me,” notes Ashley. “I’m surrounded by marine animals, I’m learning from incredible professionals in my field, and I’m able to give back to my community. I’m so thankful to be here!”
Ashley Wechsler Spotlight
Class of: 2022
Lives in: Vero Beach, FL
Furry friends: big dogs Buda, Washington, and Buddy
People or animals? “Definitely animals”
Lab work or field? “Field work, no question”
Dream job: Marine biology or animal husbandry