Dr Kelsey Herrick

School Travel Organiser spoke to Dr Kelsey Herrick, a staff veterinarian at SeaWorld California, who relates some of her experiences with LOtC, Science and the importance of taking children out of the classroom, whether overseas or locally.

Q. Please tell me a little bit about your work and your role at Sea World Parks and Entertainment.

A. I’m a staff veterinarian at SeaWorld California and I treat the thousands of mammals, birds, fishes and reptiles here. 

I am also a member of the SeaWorld Rescue team, using my medical skills to help animals that are sick or injured. Our ultimate goal is to rehabilitate and return every animal back into the wild. In the rare cases that we don’t think that an animal will do well in the wild, we find them a home either here at SeaWorld or at another facility. We’ve rescued nearly 30,000 animals over the last 50 years! 

Q. What made you want to get involved with animals and Science growing up?

A. I remember visiting SeaWorld California when I was a kid, from there it was just a case of making it happen. I remember one Physics professor in college showing me that Science is logical but also has a creative side to it as well. Without the input and mentoring of people throughout the years, I would not have become so inspired to pursue a career based in Science and animals. 

Q. How important do you think learning outside the classroom (LOtC) is?

A. Vital. The classroom is great for introduction of topics but LOtC is the best way to really inspire a child. There are so many places you can go that are both educational and fun at the same time, nature is one of the best classrooms so start at the beach or in your garden to get kids engaged. 

Q. In your opinion, what are the greatest benefits of learning outside the classroom?

A. There are no limits to the world outside the classroom, there are no restrictive four walls. There is no question that you can learn things better when you do them and experience them for yourself. You can go to a museum or a zoo and see the things in real life that otherwise, you might just have to see on a screen! There’s no comparison to the live version. 

Q. What do you think was the biggest factor in getting to where you are today?

A. Working hard in school and remaining dedicated are undoubtedly the reasons that I was able to reach my goals. It meant that I could then go on to university and veterinary medical school. Without my further education, I would have no idea how to treat animals safely and successfully. After all, an animal can’t tell me what’s wrong with them so I have to be extra good at diagnosing them to make up for it. 

Pictured: Dr Kelsey Herrick working at SeaWorld, California.

Q. Do you think there are enough opportunities for women when it comes to careers relating to Science?

A. I think that there are the same opportunities, but that more women need to be encouraged to follow paths like mine. There is no gap in the ability of girls to learn Science and I connected myself with strong mentors to help nurture me in this subject. Each individual can achieve their goals with the right mindset.

Q. Did you personally have any amazing school trips/experiences when you were a pupil? 

A. Any trip that involved animals was always the best day out of school for me. I remember loving a field trip to a local dairy farm. It made me so much more curious when I got back to my biology lessons. It made me hope that I could help to care for animals someday. 

Q. What would you say is needed to make a great LOtC trip?

A. I would say good planning is essential to make sure you end up somewhere really engaging, and also that the day runs smoothly. Some planned activities to stimulate the learning further on-site are a great addition too. Allowing kids to get their hands dirty and get a taste of different careers in Science can be truly inspiring.