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From Wildlife Enthusiast to Aspiring Researcher: Zoe's Journey with EPI

Paving the way to a career in wildlife conservation

19-year-old Zoe's venture with EPI was a whirlwind of three incredible courses that transported her to some of the planet's most fascinating ecosystems, and better shaped her future career dreams of working with wildlife. Imagine exploring the tropics of Belize in 2019, embarking on a mountainous Yellowstone adventure in 2021, and experiencing the awe-inspiring Galapagos in the Spring of 2022... all before graduating high school! When asked about her favorite course, ocean-loving Zoe couldn't help but rave about the Galapagos Islands, where she swam alongside iguanas and seals and marveled at the massive tortoises.

“EPI has given me so many moments in nature with wildlife that I couldn’t have had any other way.”

Among the unforgettable memories Zoe cherishes, one standout moment occurred during her time in Yellowstone. Collaborating with a team from the Oakland Zoo, an extracurricular program she got involved with in high school, Zoe successfully used radio telemetry to track down a missing collared bison, a triumph that impressed the entire group.

Observations and Evolutions: Shaping Career Plans

Zoe's career aspirations have evolved significantly through her EPI education. Initially drawn to working with wildlife, EPI exposed her to the world of field research, sparking her interest in observing animals in their natural habitats, rather than working in a zoo or as a veterinarian. With a commitment to contribute to wildlife rehabilitation and conservation efforts, her greatest ambition is to work toward removing pandas from the endangered species list!

The impact of EPI on Zoe's life is immeasurable. From broadening her horizons to fostering a strong sense of community with fellow EPI Alumni, she emphasizes the program's pivotal role in shaping her perspective. Zoe stresses that EPI isn't about being unplugged from your phone for a week; it's about immersing yourself in a new ecosystem and culture, experiencing firsthand the life of a field researcher. For her, it was a gateway into a world where she could make meaningful contributions to scientific endeavors, something far beyond what a typical classroom setting could offer.

Why EPI? I love EPI because when you're in the field, you’re a part of something bigger. It's not just you isolated in your world. It's truly a once in a lifetime experience!

Today, Zoe studies biology and neuroscience at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, with plans to eventually pursue a PhD. Recently, she decided to apply for a study abroad program that would enable her to research rhinos in the wildlands of Africa. We can't wait to watch her wildlife conservation career dreams come true and are honored to have helped get her started!

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