Audubon internships broaden horizons for two students

smmons and faulkner

Juniors Darby Simmons and Ke'Vonn Faulkner spent the summer interning at the Freeport-McMoran Audubon Species Survival Center.Photo by Tobie Blanchard

On New Orleans’ West Bank, on a tract of land where the road seems to end is the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center. Within the lush landscape live lions, giraffes, bongos, and more animals not typically found in south Louisiana.


It is here that two LSU College of Agriculture students have spent their summer caring for this menagerie. Ke’Vonn Faulkner, a junior in animal sciences, and Darby Simmons, a junior in natural resource ecology and management, each did a 10-week internship at the center.


Faulkner’s focus during the internship was caring for the center’s whooping crane and Mississippi sandhill crane populations.


“I actually dress in costume, and interact with the baby chicks because we don’t want them to have any human interaction, and because we want to release them to the wild so they can fend for themselves,” Faulkner said.  


Faulkner said she didn’t give much thought to working with birds before, but said the experience has opened her eyes.


Audubon CranesSimmons spent more of her time with the center’s hooved animals such as eland, yellow-backed duiker and sable.


“It’s all kind of animals from all over the world that I’ve never gotten to see or experience before,” Simmons said.


Both students want to become veterinarians, but Simmons said the internship has fueled her interest in conservation.


“I want to obviously be able help animals as a veterinarian, but with the conservation side to also be able to help them in their environment,” Simmons said.cranes


The students say the work was a perfect way to spend their summer, and they know the experience will help them pursue their dreams.


“An internship is worth the time and effort because it broadens your horizons to see, hey there is this type of animal here, so let’s see what it’s more about. It also provides you unique character for when you do apply to vet school to say, I dealt with these type of animals,” Faulkner said


Interested in an internship? Contact Gigi Gauthier, LSU College of Agriculture internship coordinator, at