Chai Yang remembers having an interest in animals and wildlife growing up. It was something that he has always enjoyed, though when questioned about his future career aspirations, he wanted to get involved in law enforcement. After taking a few courses with the St. Paul Police Explorers program to further explore his interest, Chai later realized it was no longer a career he wanted to pursue. It was not until after a fishing trip with his brother that he began to think about the possibility of majoring in fisheries and wildlife. During a car ride home from the trip, his brother shared how much he noticed Chai’s passion and excitement during their fishing trips and planted the seed in his mind that he could explore wildlife as a career.
Chai was looking for an opportunity to gain more experience in work that involved his interests: biology, fishery, and wildlife. He knew he wanted an opportunity to work in this field but also acknowledged the challenge he might face not having a connection to anyone in the field to help introduce him to the opportunities. He decided to take a chance and apply to Right Track, a program specific to St. Paul youth that caters to young adults ages 14-21 seeking their first jobs or internships.
Through this program, Chai was connected with the Bell Museum internship and began communicating with Sushma Reddy, Breckenridge Chair of ornithology & Curator of Birds, to learn more about the internship. The classroom and hands-on opportunity to grow his skills in science communication, particularly during Expeditions to the Bell program over the past summer was a highlight of the internship for Chai. He also appreciated the support and frequent check-ins with interns to share feedback.
While Chai’s original plan was to attend community college for two years and then transfer to a four year college, he credits the internship with inspiring him to give the University of Minnesota a second look. The program had created genuine connections and relationships that he built and wanted to grow. His family has always dreamt of their children attending the University of Minnesota and as the youngest in his family, Chai is proud to have accomplished this goal. Chai is currently completing his first year of college as a Fisheries and Wildlife Biology major at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.
Chai’s advice to fellow wildlife enthusiasts unsure how to get started: “Really get out there and try to experience new things. It may take a while to get used to, but it is good in the long run. Get out there and do what you love to do.”