When veterinary technology school student Marie O’Dell applied for an internship at the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in February, she had no idea of the troubles facing the center. About a week after she applied for the internship, she received an email from Annalynn Hammond, Lead Wildlife Technician, at the center. This email outlined the news that the Wisconsin DNR had recently announced plans to shut down the MacKenzie Center this year with no plan for continued care or appropriate new placement of the animals in the center’s wildlife exhibit.
This news saddened and upset Marie, a Globe University-Madison East student. “I’ve had a lot of friends tell me about their experiences learning about wildlife at the MacKenzie Center that they couldn’t have had otherwise,” she says.
Marie felt the need to help, and knew exactly how! Through a service-learning project in her Global Citizenship class, Marie had recently learned how to develop a social media based campaign using the website change.org. Students selected an issue important to them, conducted research on the topic, and sought to raise awareness about the issue–specifically, to advocate for change and solutions to the issue. Students used the platform to contact elected representatives, companies, and/or government officials, depending on the topic.
Although she had already created her petition for the class assignment, Marie knew the MacKenzie Center could benefit from a petition and wanted to help gain exposure to the issue. She immediately created a change.org petition asking supporters of the MacKenzie Center to sign and share it with others.
The MacKenzie Center petition caught the eyes of many local supporters. Signatures and supporting comments on the site grew faster than Marie had expected, reaching more than 3,500 signatures in three weeks, and the number continues to grow.
“I’m hoping this petition will help the MacKenzie Center stay open by showing the public how educational and accessible it is,” Marie says.
Globe Citizenship Instructor Gabriel Neely is proud of Marie, saying, “Marie’s passion and hard work and is an excellent example for other students and demonstrative of the potentials of citizenship and involvement in the vet tech area community.”
To learn more about the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center and Marie’s petition, click here. Feel free to sign the petition and share it with your friends and family to help keep the center open.