Hannah Wherry became a staff member at Turpentine Creek in 2018, after aiding the development of the Education Department from an internship position. Originally from Colorado, Hannah grew up with a passion for big cats and wildlife. She consistently pursued volunteer opportunities and internships involving animal advocacy and stewardship including interning at The Wild Animal Sanctuary and a Wildlife Research Internship in South Africa. Hannah obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, graduating in 2016 at the top of her class.
Immediately after graduation, Hannah soon found her voice for wildlife as an Animal Care Intern at TCWR. Her excitement for interpretation grew during the opportunities to tour guests and school groups around the Refuge, aiding them to become animal advocates themselves. Learning each animal’s individual story inspired her to continue her interpretive training. After completing an animal care internship, she became the first Education Intern at Turpentine Creek, helping to spearhead the Education Department. Her favorite aspect of being a Wildlife Interpreter is interacting with guests, especially youth, providing them the opportunity to learn how they can also help protect the natural world.
Hannah is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpretation. She has pursued many educational opportunities to grow as a professional Wildlife Interpreter. Hannah is involved in the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists to develop greater interpretive techniques within the volunteer program.
Favorite Inspirational Quote:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
– Margaret Mead
Beckie is the Education Coordinator for Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. She helped develop the Education Department in 2018, creating more opportunities to help visitors make personal connections to stop the abuse and neglect of the exotic pet trade and the entertainment industry. Beckie attended the University of Arkansas and received her B.S. in Education with a focus on Wildlife Interpretation. Working for the Arkansas State Parks as Park Interpreter, she was able to help connect visitors to flora and fauna of our beautiful state. After working for the parks, she decided to return home. An opportunity arose to work for TCWR, where she had grown up visiting. Beckie is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation. This internationally recognized organization focuses on education to help preserve and protect our natural and cultural heritage resources.
“It is through education that you can be the voice for wildlife everywhere to stop the abuse and neglect that they face. We have a role to play to stop the exotic pet trade and entertainment industry and protect wildlife in their native environments.”
Abby Hickam became a staff member in August of 2019 after completing a year as Turpentine Creek’s education intern. She obtained her B.S in Zoology from Arkansas State University in 2018. She always knew she wanted to work around animals since she was young, but never knew in what way. After receiving her degree, she participated in an avian husbandry program in North Carolina. Seeing the impact of education at that facility, she decided that informing the public was what she wanted to do. Since being at Turpentine, Abby has continued her education by becoming a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpretation.
Turpentine Creek opened her eyes to the problems exotic animals face in captivity throughout the United States. Educating the public about these hardships and how people can help is one of the main reasons she decided to stay when offered a staff position.
“Knowing that people come into the refuge with no idea of the issues big cats face and leave wanting to become advocates is extremely rewarding.”
Alex has been an Education Intern at Turpentine Creek since August of 2019. Originally from Warsaw, OH, she graduated from the University of Mount Union in May of 2019 with a B.S. in Environmental Science, specializing in biology. Throughout her coursework, she learned a lot about endangered species and their conservation. Working with big cats had always been a dream, so when offered the opportunity to intern at TCWR, it was a natural choice. Since coming to TCWR, Alex has continued her education by becoming a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation.
Being a member of the Education Department has given her opportunities to teach people about big cats’ plights in captivity. She has realized that educating the public is the key to making a difference for these exotic animals that are abused and neglected globally. The Wildlife Interpretation offered at TCWR has provided her the ability to not only teach about the animals but the chance to create future wildlife advocates.
“Turpentine Creek is not just a home for all the animals that have been rescued over the years. It also becomes a home for those fortunate enough to live here and be a part of this family of staff and interns. TCWR has taught me more in my internship, both professionally and emotionally, than most people experience in a lifetime. And for that, I am eternally grateful.”