Tim Oldread (BS, Wildlife and Fisheries Science, '02) became an instructor in the education department at SeaWorld Adventure Park.

My degree

B.S. 2002, Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Average day on my job

Currently I am an Instructor IV within the Education Department at SeaWorld Adventure Park Orlando. Day to day, my job is never the same. Some days I may be teaching classes to school groups and boy scout or girl scout troops that come to the park on field trips. Other days I may be giving tours, whether behind the scenes at animal exhibits (Shamu Stadium, Shark Encounter, Wild Arctic, for example) or at our animal rehabilitation area.

Sometimes my schedule requires sleepovers with groups where we take the students around the park after hours and then sleep at one of our several underwater viewing areas (manatee, dolphin, beluga whale, polar bear, or penguin) or venture off-site to other popular Florida destinations (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay or Discovery Cove). Also, the best time of year involves our Adventure Camp during the summer months. I actually started as an intern at SeaWorld the summer after my junior year helping teach these camps. (Please feel free to encourage your current undergrads to apply for the internship at www.seaworld.org) I am now currently recruiting, interviewing, and hiring our interns for this upcoming summer season 2004. It's amazing to see things come full circle.

With the Adventure Camps, we bring in close to 4,000 students each summer to teach them about Florida ecology, wildlife, and history. Some camps stay on-site at the park while others may travel to the Florida Keys for snorkeling trips, to the East Coast for canoeing, to St. Augustine to study history, to Ponce Inlet to learn about animal rehabilitation, or to Discovery Cove to swim with dolphins. As you can see, variety is definitely characteristic of my job.

How did you get interested in wildlife science?

I have my uncle, Father Tom Pincelli, to thank for instilling an interest in me for the environment and wildlife. He is an avid birder and naturalist who opened my eyes to the world around me. I visited my uncle numerous times in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas during my middle and high school years. We would visit numerous National Wildlife Refuges and Audubon sanctuaries during my trips to Deep South Texas. These visits actually helped me procure an internship the summer after my freshman year at PSU with Laguna Atascosa NWR , which was a great experience that helped me land my current job.

Educational path

When I originally enrolled at PSU, I declared myself an Earth Sciences major within the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. After attending an orientation session, I realized that Earth Sciences was not the major for me. After talking with some people, I realized my interests would be more suited for the Wildlife and Fisheries Science major. So technically, I changed my major once during my college career; however, it was done before I set foot in my first PSU class.

What do you like most about your job?

Again, the variety of responsibilities is a great aspect of my job. Also, the kids make the experience amazing. Being able to teach them about subjects I enjoy and find interesting makes the job extremely fulfilling.

What are 3 characteristics necessary to do your job well?

The number one characteristic necessary is high energy. Students feed off of their instructors and having an enthusiastic, positive attitude is not only going to make the subject matter more interesting and exciting, it will make the learning experience easier for the kids. Another trait you need to have, with this and any other job in my opinion, is a true interest in what you are doing. If you do not like your job, or even your major while you are in school, it is much more difficult to complete necessary tasks. I know I could not have graduated had I not enjoyed my time and classes at Penn State. Lastly, I think patience is extremely important for my job.

Whether it is dealing with foreign tourists or children with attention deficit disorders (during 100 degree, 100 percent humidity weather), patience is a definite asset to have on your side.

What advice do you have for students considering this field?

I would encourage students considering this field to run with it if they truly enjoy wildlife. It is not an easy major but with effort and dedication, you learn so much throughout your years in the college. And there are so many opportunities and different directions that wildlife science can take you. Look at me, I work at a theme park! But I believe in what I do and truly feel I make a difference in those that I teach.

What was your favorite thing about the WFS major?

Dr. Gary San Julian. He was an excellent teacher and an amazing adviser. He showed me I could combine my interests in wildlife science and children.