A dancing opossum named Penelope and a banana-eating groundhog are only a couple of the many exotic and interesting animals that make appearances at the Zoology Club’s meetings. The Zoology Club at NC State is about more than meeting animals. Members volunteer at local organizations, bring in guest lecturers and provide students with a large networking and educational opportunity.
“Students can find an entire club who share the same animal-mindedness, regardless of major,” said Alyssa Hartzheim, the president of the club and a third-year studying zoology. “A surprising number of members aren’t zoology majors, as it is a small major, but we have a lot of business majors.”
Zoology is an old major, and the Zoology Club at NC State has been around since 1996. Brianna Sorber, the club’s vice president and a third-year studying zoology, spoke about the turnout for meetings throughout the semester and her favorite parts of the club.
“Being able to meet other people who share the same love of animals is great and it’s a nice social break from school,” Sorber said. “On non-physics nights we get about 25 to 50 people showing up, and our first event is the wildlife rehabilitator [a speaker], who has a friendly African raven that brings in a lot of interested people.”
Zoology includes the wide variety of the animal kingdom, from cats and dogs to lions and bears. This differentiates the major and club from other similarly animal related groups, such as pre-vet, Companion Animal Club and animal science.
“Last week we did an event at a middle school speaking to an animal science class,” Hartzheim said. “It was cool because middle schoolers are thinking about what they want to be when they grow up, and we got to tell them what zoologists do and what we do as a club.”
A big part of the club is the networking and career exploration opportunity. A common misconception about a zoology major is that it leads to a career in zookeeping. Madison Smith, a first-year studying zoology, said she appreciates the club’s connections for helping her to find a research assistant position in the field.
“Each meeting we try to bring in a speaker to showcase the variety of careers including professors, museum staff, zookeepers, exotic vets and researchers,” Hartzheim said. “We have close connections to Piedmont Wildlife Center, Carolina Tiger Rescue, Duke Lemur Center and the Turtle Rescue Team.”
In addition to interesting guest speakers, Zoology Club plans many service projects at these organizations. Members can experience what it would be like to work up close and personal with specific animals and go on a behind-the-scenes tour.
“I like going to the places and seeing a day in the life of a worker, because the tours make it worth it even if it’s hard work,” Hartzheim said. “Sometimes it’s just helping the people who help animals. We’ve cleaned up and greeted at galas, but it’s fun because you get to be around the industry.”
Zoology provides free food for their weekly meetings; non-members are allowed to attend meetings and eat as well. They also allow people to bring their pets in addition to the educational animals brought in by organizations.
“I’ve brought in my bearded dragon,” Smith said. “We’ve had snapping turtles, a spotted skunk, screech owls, a red shouldered hawk and lots of snakes.”
Students may recognize the Zoology Club from the North Carolina State Fair where they worked to guard cows, or from a recruiting booth at Packapalooza.
The Zoology at NC State Facebook page is public and includes information about meeting times. Any of the 300 people who have joined the group can enjoy more networking opportunities. Past alumni will sometimes post events and related volunteer information. In the spring, meetings will feature speakers from the Duke Lemur Center and the Turtle Rescue Team.