My name is Lindsey Van Schoick and I’m an Animal Care Supervisor at Pacific Marine Mammal Center. PMMC is a wildlife rehab center for stranded/ injured marine mammals such as California Sea Lions, Northern Elephant Seals, Pacific Harbor Seals, and Northern Fur Seals. Our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release marine mammals, as well as inspire good ocean stewardship through research, education, and collaboration. My job is to oversee the care of our patients on the given shifts that I run. I have an amazing crew of volunteers that help me get this done! I’m also a part of the Large Whale Entanglement Response Team that helps document and disentangle cetaceans off our local coast.
How did you get started in this industry?
There aren’t many paid positions in this industry, and most of the paid positions require some sort of experience. So, I found a place I could volunteer in order to gain the necessary skills I needed. Once I was accepted into the volunteer program I tried to soak it all in, learn everything I possible could, but mostly I just wanted to help, so I strived to be the best helper I could be. And the rest is history!
Tell us what your favorite part of the job is.
My favorite part is watching an animal go home on release day, knowing that I had some part in giving that individual a 2nd chance at life. There’s something that’s satisfying about helping an animal that would have been lost without intervention and then watching them race for the ocean on release day. There’s so many obstacles our patients face to get well. It’s a privilege to watch and be a part of that process.
What are you most passionate about?
I think I’m most passionate about making sure all of our animal patients receive excellent care while at our facility. I also enjoy teaching and training our volunteers to do the work that we do. There is so much joy in watching our volunteers master a new skill and getting to partake in something that is special to them.
Describe a typical day on the job.
What I love most about this line of work is that everyday can be different. You never really can predict how a day will go. A call can come in at anytime that changes the whole course of the day and you have to adapt very quickly. But generally, a typical day involves a repetitive cycle of food prep, feeding, and cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning! I start my morning by checking on all our animals to make sure no one needs immediate attention. I then have my fabulous crew of volunteers that help me get all the feedings done and have the place sparkling clean, which is not an easy task to say the least! In between the feeding/cleaning cycle I’m making sure all of the veterinarian’s medical orders have gotten met for each patient, each animal has received any special treatment that was needed, and then coordinating any rescue efforts for stranded marine mammals when calls come in. During our busy season I think everyone goes home completely exhausted!
What is your most memorable experience on the job?
It’s hard to pick just one because there are so many! The most recent one comes from having the opportunity to go out on the boat to help disentangle a juvenile grey whale. There was one point where the whale stopped under the surface very close to the boat and I was looking eye to eye with him. That moment literally took my breath away! I felt so puny next to that beautiful creature and was filled with so much awe and respect. The team was able to remove a lot of the entanglement that day, so that was pretty awesome too.
If you could give one piece of advice to the younger generation what would it be?
My piece of advice would be to work hard and not give up. I volunteered for 13 years before I got a chance at a paid position in my industry. There were many moments where I wondered if I should give up and move on to something else, but my persistence and willingness to work hard paid off. Any hardship I encountered along the way was completely worth it and I’m actually so thankful for them because it helped prepare me for any obstacles that I face now.
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