I grew up on a small farm and have been around animals my whole life. Caring for animals was something I enjoyed and was good at doing, so it was a natural progression to follow a career that involved animal husbandry. My family was heavily involved in 4-H, so I was exposed to opportunities that helped grow and expand my knowledge in the care of animals, taught me life skills and how to be a leader. It also helped strengthen my self confidence so that I could go out and conquer what I wanted.
I graduated high school with a scholarship from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which sent me to Texas A&M University where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife and fisheries science. This was one of many steps I took that led me to being a zookeeper.
Fortunately for me, the Fort Worth Zoo had a position open just as I was finishing my internships. Two weeks after my interview, I was working as an entry-level keeper taking care of bears, lions, tigers and hoofstock. It was one of the best decisions of my life. After a couple of years, I was able to move to a supervisor position when the new Texas Wild! habitat opened. I learned so much about management, patience and compromise. I also discovered I was good at organizing and loved the challenge of making the workday run smoothly and efficiently for the staff, department and the animals’ care. The animals were great, of course. How could you not love them? They enrich our lives just by existing, but getting to see them and care for them daily is priceless. However, I knew I wanted to advance further into management so I could add a new way to assist in the profession. When the opportunity opened, I went for and got the assistant curator of mammals position that eventually brought me to my current role as an associate mammal curator. The past 24 years have been a blessing and I don’t regret my decision to be here for a single moment. The Fort Worth Zoo is amazing, and it definitely helped shape me into the woman I am today.