By Kendall Annetti, Winter Break Intern, Division of Birds
Where are you from and what brings you to the Museum?
My name is Kendall Annetti and I’m from Park Ridge, Illinois. I am currently a senior at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and am a double major in Animal Sciences and Integrative Biology with hopes of going to veterinary school. I am passionate about wildlife disease research and am currently doing a research project in the Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Lab at the Illinois Natural History Survey under Dr. Nohra Mateus-Pinilla. My work focuses on surveying and assessing the health impact of blood parasites in waterfowl and upland game birds in Illinois. I also really enjoy horseback riding!
How did you get “Behind those Doors?”
I helped on a project in vertebrate zoology collections management in the Division of Birds. I had applied to some of the other projects I was interested in but many of the programs had already filled up or I wasn’t the best candidate for the job so I turned to what I enjoy the most, birds! The Natural History Museum’s website directed the potential applicants to Chris Milensky as the point of contact for the Division of Birds, so I emailed him directly asking for an internship. After being accepted, I then started working with Chris on the details and paperwork necessary for me to come to D.C. during my winter break and help with the collections. Chris was really great at understanding and accommodating my interests in veterinary science and had me work on things geared towards my skills.
What is it you’re doing back there, behind those doors?
I did a variety of things at the Smithsonian! I never imagined I would get to do so many different things in such a short amount of time. The majority of my time at the Museum was spent working with my fellow intern Arthi on a collection of birds from Tanzania. We first took muscle scrapings to put in the tissue collection and put metal tags on the birds so they could be sent off to Museum Support Center (MSC) to the dermestid colonies for cleaning. We also worked putting tags on Tanzanian specimens being kept in alcohol. Additionally, Arthi and I inventoried tissue samples, assembled skeleton specimens of kori bustards and mute swans, and attended a necropsy of an oryx at the National Zoo!
What’s been the most amazing or unexpected thing you’ve seen, experienced or discovered while being part of the NMNH academic community?
I was really amazed at the size of the collections! It was so impressive to open up any cabinet in the Division of Birds and see something completely different than the cabinet next to it. We toured MSC and got to walk through some of the mammal collection as well, the diversity and sheer number of specimens were astonishing! Not to mention that ever staff member who I met not only loved their job, but was genuinely excited to share their knowledge with interns and the public. The Winter Break Internship was a great experience for me and I thought the whole thing was pretty amazing!