May 13, 2010
"Having interns working with our staff at the Humane Society of Charlotte was a great learning experience on both ends. We were happy to share our knowledge and experience with our international peers and it was a great learning experience for HSC staff to learn about the work that is being done for animals in other countries. We look forward to hosting again."—Shelly A. Moore, CAWA, President/CEO, Humane Society of Charlotte.
Humane Society International (HSI) launched our Expo Scholarship Fund and Internship Program in 1999 to encourage and promote training of individuals involved in animal sheltering/control and humane education abroad. The Scholarship Fund underwrites the cost of attending the annual HSUS Animal Care Expo for key staff of active foreign societies, particularly those in so-called developing countries. In addition, for one full week prior to Expo, under the HSI Expo Internship Program, U.S. humane societies host selected scholarship recipients for hands-on training at their facilities.
How the program works
All applicants complete a detailed application, and an HSI staff committee makes the final scholarship selections. In addition to individual capabilities, careful consideration is given to how the applicant's country and organization fit into HSI's strategic plan. Many scholarship recipients work with groups which are already partnered with HSI. From those selected for scholarships, internships are arranged for those interested in taking advantage of this opportunity.
Individuals arrive in the host community one week before the start of Expo. HSI covers the cost of international travel and all Expo costs. The host society provides ground transportation and room and board for the intern, as well as appropriate leisure-time activities during her stay. The host society also designates one or more staff members to serve as counselors and mentors for the guest during her visit.
During the internship, the host society provides opportunities for the intern to participate in all aspects of daily shelter/society operation, working alongside staff in such activities as:
- Receiving animals and record keeping
- Health screening
- Animal capture and handling
- Shelter cleaning
- Adoption (policies, interviews, counseling)
The host society also introduces the intern to humane education programs and materials as well as fund raising projects, local licensing programs, spay/neuter requirements and programs, etc. Following the visit, both the host society and the intern provide HSI with a brief written evaluation of the internship.
Many societies make the most of their intern's visit by:
- Issuing a press release publicizing the shelter's contribution to international animal protection
- Arranging a press conference or an interview for their intern with their local newspaper or TV station
- Publishing an article about the internship in their society's newsletter
- Inviting their intern to make an informal presentation about animal protection in his country for their staff and board of directors
Local humane society staffs have found that learning about and helping someone from a developing country who is struggling to improve care and conditions for the animals, often under unbelievably difficult conditions, is a humbling and gratifying experience. For some, the contact between the foreign society and the local society continues long after the internship has ended. When there is an interest in doing so, the host society is encouraged to assume the role of mentor or sister society to the foreign society to support further training and cooperation.
A recent intern from Nepal explains, "it is advice and consultation that are important—not money, but contacts." He added that the most helpful trainings were those that addressed good organizational structure and meeting the challenges of animal protection while maintaining a positive attitude. "I would like to thank HSUS/HSI for sending me to Lincoln, Nebraska and to thank Bob Downey and the Capital Humane Society for giving me the opportunity to learn about culture, communication, and animal protection in the U.S."
The HSI Internship Program has proven to be a wonderful experience for both the interns and the host societies. The program continues to grow and HSI anticipates that it will remain an important part of our work.
For more information on applying for the Scholarship Fund and Internship Program, or to host an intern, please contact Donna Pease, HSI Expo coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that this program is open to only animal welfare workers in countries outside of the US. For more about standard internship opportunities at The HSUS for university students or those wishing to gain experience in the animal welfare field, please click here.