Amber Eden Rendleman (Port of Dubuque, Iowa)
Students’ paths to their dreams are unique and rarely turn out as planned. During my senior year at OIMB, I evaluated the plentiful career roads with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology; going for a Masters or PhD, doing research, teaching, joining the Department of Fish & Wildlife, research…research…did I mention research? But then I thought of aquarium animal care. So, I did some research, and was very fortunate to find one of few programs in the nation that not only teaches, but provides hands-on experience in aquarium science. The Aquarium Science Program, taught at Oregon Coast Community College, is in Newport, Oregon. I attended the program and graduated with a Certificate in Aquarium Science. With the knowledge gained from extensive study of marine organisms and the marine environment at OIMB, and the theory and practical application of aquatic animal care taught by the program at OCCC, I‘d acquired the skills to be a versatile aquarist for an aquarium, zoo, nature or science center, or museum with a living collection. I was hired as a seasonal zookeeper for the summers of 2013 and 2014 at the Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago. My first summer, I was a butterfly keeper, and my second summer, I was a Stingray Bay keeper. Then it happened. I interviewed in early July 2014 for a position at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium and, a few weeks later, was asked to join the team. I love it! In the last few years I have been asked, “where is your dream job?” I have always felt it’s not necessarily where, but what. The location of my job isn’t necessarily important. As long as I’m doing what I enjoy, and have worked so hard in school for, then I have my dream job!