When Derrick Maltman ’14 was young, family time often meant a trip to the zoo. Now, just a year away from receiving his degree in Captive Wildlife Care and Education from Unity College, he has landed a unique and exotic internship.
This month, Maltman began a summer internship at the Zoological Center in Tel Aviv, Israel. With a view of the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the majesty of the Negev desert inland to the southeast, he is in a place that stretches the borders of his imagination. Despite the natural beauty all around him and engaging mix of cultures and traditions all vying for his attention, Maltman’s primary focus is on his internship.
The son of an American military career man who has travelled the world and who most recently called a U.S. Military base in Germany home, Maltman struck upon the idea of pursuing an internship in Tel Aviv after learning that his father and mother would be relocating there for a new assignment. Though a world traveler for much of his life, Maltman is a United States citizen who considers Zanesville, Ohio to be his hometown. It is where many of his family members live.
Encouraged by the Career Resource Center at Unity College, and his advisor, Maltman arranged a Skype interview with the Zoological Center in Tel Aviv. The interviewer spoke English well and said that Maltman’s inability to speak Hebrew would not pose an obstacle to the pursuit of a successful internship. Even so, Maltman began to study the language once he was accepted for the internship. All Captive Wildlife Care and Education majors are required to pursue an internship as part of their requirements for graduation, and adding a language to the mix would be a plus. Learning Hebrew would also be a way for Maltman to honor his hosts.
“I hope that when I return for my senior year upon completion of this internship and offer a presentation to the College community that I am fluent enough to begin in Hebrew and then switch to English,” noted Maltman. He plans this as a gesture of thanks and respect to the accommodating people of Israel.
Though the lure of living in Israel was enticing for Maltman, his career goal was front-and-center when deciding to pursue the internship in Tel Aviv.
“Zoos in other countries are very progressive,” said Maltman, who has seen visited many of the best zoos and wildlife refuges in Europe and parts of the Middle East. Habitats are often constructed around instincts and behavioral needs of animals, keeping them engaged, healthy, and comfortable, Maltman says. He adds that zoos in Europe and parts of the Middle East are often more willing than their American counterparts to try new approaches.
“Animal care professionals are more experimental,” Maltman said. As a lifelong fan of zoos and budding professional in the industry, Maltman considers respect for animals to be paramount. “It is a pet peeve of mine when zoos simply use the standard plaque describing the animal,” Maltman said. “I want zoos to educate and engage visitors, not just offer animals for viewing as a passive experience.”
Upon graduation from Unity College he hopes to make his mark as a progressive zookeeper who pushes the leading edge, exploring ways to engage viewers in a comprehensive educational process so that a trip to the zoo is an active experience. Ultimately, in his career after graduation Maltman would like to explore ways to encourage zoo visitors to learn more about animals and develop empathy for the animals’ plight in the natural world.
Maltman is working in the predator department at the Zoological Center in Tel Aviv cleaning enclosures, feeding animals, assisting with veterinary tasks, and other duties as needed. The experience will help bridge the gap between classroom experience and real world know how.
The Captive Wildlife Care and Education program at Unity College has provided ample opportunities for Maltman to gain “hands-on” experience through volunteer placements in Maine that prepared him to make the most of his internship in Tel Aviv.
While in Israel, Maltman will be writing a blog about his experiences.
When Maltman receives his diploma in 2014, his sister, Alyssa, will be crossing the stage to receive her own diploma from Unity College in Wildlife. She is spending the summer months prior to her senior year pursuing an internship at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge in Tyler, Texas where she is giving educational tours, aiding the feeding of the animals, as well as constructing new enclosures.
In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including its focus on sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century ecological problem solving and the vanguard in the fight for the mitigation of global climate change; its ground-breaking “green” innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and for being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education.
Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.