Every year, we bring on summer interns to assist with the day-to-day of RAPS, both to take a bit of a load off our regular employees and volunteers, and to make sure our operations are doing the greatest possible good by taking advantage of the creativity and fresh insights that come from the younger generation.
We typically hire three interns to help with the general administrative operations, and three for the RAPS Cat Sanctuary. Today, we asked the latter, Joyce (on left, holding Chimo), Ava (middle, holding Tugboat) and Jocelyn (at right, holding Tyson) a couple questions about themselves and their experience and are thanking them for all their hard work these past 3 months.
Why did you choose RAPS?
Joyce: I want to work with animals as a career particularly in a rescue or sanctuary setting. I love cats and have experience with them, so when I saw RAPS was hiring for summer interns, it looked like the perfect opportunity.
Ava: I started visiting the Sanctuary in 2015 when I was 12 years old. I loved the cats, the people, and the whole atmosphere of the place. Back then I was too young to volunteer but I heard about the summer internship opportunities for university students and I planned on applying after my first year of university.
Jocelyn: I chose RAPS because I was looking for animal related places to spend my time this summer. I’m studying animal health and disease, so I knew for sure that I wanted to be working alongside the cats at the sanctuary.
What did a typical day look like for you in the summer?
Joyce: Some days I was assigned an area to feed and clean, which would often take up most of my shift. When I was done with my area or if I didn’t have one, I would see if others needed help in their areas, or I would wash litterboxes and do laundry and dishes. If all that was done, I would do other projects such as filling food buckets, reorganizing drawers, and cleaning cat trees.
Ava: The first thing I would do to start my day is go straight to the tearoom and say hello to my favourite boy Tugboat. After I gave him a few pets, I would check the shift board. If there were any cleaning/feeding/scooping shifts that needed coverage, I would get started on those. My duties mainly involved cleaning, although I often did small maintenance around the Sanctuary like patching up broken gates and roofs. I also always had a side project, building outdoor litterbox and feeding stations, that I would work on in my spare time between cleaning.
Jocelyn: On a morning shift, I would be able to cover any shifts for any staff who were away by cleaning their assigned area, or I would help out by sharing a cleaning duty with another intern or staff member. Of course, I would take a coffee or lunch break midway through the day to spend some time snacking and declining requests for human food from the usual kitty culprits. After the morning cleaning was finished, I would team up with those scrubbing and sanitizing litter boxes and scoops, fill in for any empty evening volunteer slots by feeding or scooping in any given area, fill up containers of food and litter for distribution throughout the sanctuary, and scrub pull hair from any surface imaginable.
What is your favourite moment from your internship?
Joyce: I can’t think of one specific moment but meeting so many lovely cats and getting closer with some of them was definitely a highlight. Every cuddle with Cole, Ollie’s irresistible stare, Freya keeping me company while I do the litterboxes, even being able to get a bit closer to beautiful Chai before she hides, are some of my favourite memories I will hold onto.
Ava: My favourite moment was the end of my second week, when I finished building my first litterbox station for one of the back pens. I had never built something that big before and learned so many new things (like how to use different power tools and saws, how to tile roofs, etc). That feeling of drilling in the last screw, stepping back to look at what I made, and realizing “I did that”, was an extremely rewarding feeling.
Jocelyn: My favourite moment from my summer at RAPS was after the sun had set and the evening became quiet, suddenly watching 12 cats chase one single rat in a frenzy around the courtyard for almost an hour.
What are you up to in the fall?
Joyce: I am going into my fourth year in B.Sc. Zoology at the University of Guelph. I’m also planning on continuing volunteering at a reptile conservation/education facility, and hoping to volunteer at a vet clinic.
Ava: I am very excited to have been given the opportunity to stay working at the Sanctuary full time! I will be continuing on with my duties at the Sanctuary for the indefinite future.
Jocelyn: I’m heading back to Montreal for my third year of my undergraduate studying life sciences with a concentration in animal health and disease. After my experience with RAPS, which I am so lucky to have gotten, I’m hoping to bring an extra special perspective to my future studies. A huge thanks to everybody at the sanctuary for making my summer so fantastically memorable.
RAPS summer interns are made possible through the Canada Summer Jobs program of the Government of Canada. If you are (or someone you know is) a student who adores animals, keep an eye out next spring for call-outs for our 2022 summer intern program!