Intern Interview – Sydney Grange
Sydney Grange spent June and July as an animal care intern, assisting with the hands-on care and socialization of the 200 rescued farmed animals at our Grass Valley sanctuary. She assisted in the rescue of 1,525 hens from an egg farm and spent several days at our rescue and adoption center in Vacvaville helping with the health checks and care of 1,800 hens! Here she shares her experience as an intern.
I always loved animals, but it wasn’t until I was 13 when I realized that eating meat directly contradicted my values. I became vegetarian and researched animal agriculture, which led me to discover that it wasn’t just the meat industry that was exploitive but also the egg and dairy industries. Even learning these facts and realizing that a vegan diet aligned best with my values, I struggled to make the transition. For a few years I went back and forth on a vegan diet and it wasn’t until before my internship at Animal Place that I made the full transition.
It has been an empowering experience to step out of mainstream culture, which normalizes the exploitation of animals, and into a community that does just the opposite. Here at Animal Place, compassion and care for other beings is the norm. Animal Place has provided me with the supportive community that I needed in order to effectively adopt a vegan lifestyle.
Animal Place provides a unique opportunity to connect with farmed animals. The relationship I have formed with the animals at Animal Place eliminated the disconnection between them and the meat and animal byproducts I see everywhere.
I love so many of the animals at Animal Place, it’s hard to choose just one animal that I particularly connected with. I really enjoyed spending time with the big pigs, the pot belly pigs, the turkey girls and the goats. Pigs are my favorite animal, so it was great to have the opportunity to learn more about them and give them lots of belly rubs. The turkey girls surprised me with how approachable and loving they can be. The goats make me smile with their quirky and unique personalities.
Aside from animal rights, I am passionate about nature and environmental justice. Up until this point I have rarely allowed for my interest in animal rights and my interest in environmental justice to overlap—I have pursued these passions separately. However, being at Animal Place has provided me with the knowledge, confidence and motivation needed to pursue these two in tandem where possible. Environmental issues and animal rights issues are so interconnected that fighting for them simultaneously makes sense!
Animal Place has helped me to gain a better sense of my career path by pushing me toward this realization. I hope to focus my future efforts, where possible, on issues with animal agriculture. Hopefully this will help to establish a platform from which both issues can be addressed simultaneously.
For those transitioning to a vegan diet, I would recommend informing yourself about the various ways in which humans exploit animals in the agricultural industry. This process can be emotionally exhausting at times, but if you stay aware of how we exploit these sentient beings, then disconnecting your consumption of animals byproducts to the animals themselves will be harder.
Be sure to maintain a good balance of educating yourself about the agricultural industry and also bonding with animals in enjoyable ways, because the transition to a vegan diet should be an exciting and positive experience! I would recommend connecting with a supportive group of people who share your vegan values. This support group can give you motivation when it becomes challenging to pursue a vegan lifestyle in a non-vegan world.
For those applying to the internship program, I would just say to make the most of your internship while you’re here. It goes by fast! Spend quality time with the animals. It’s a unique opportunity to get to know farm animals in a non-production setting. The animals you will meet during your internship will help to serve as a constant reminder of who you are fighting for and why you are fighting!
Interested in applying to one of our residential internships? Start the process by filling out a form here: http://animalplace.org/get-invovled-sanctuary-internships/.