Alumni Story: Danene Birtell

Responding to wildlife emergencies, and improving the care protocols for dealing with injured animals – this is part of Manor alumna Danene Birtell’s everyday routine. Danene now works at the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center. “I was always interested in working with wildlife,” Danene explains. When Danene decided to enroll at Manor, she already had a B.S in Biology and Marine Sciences and was working in California. But she realized that she didn’t always understand the reasoning behind what she was doing. “I wanted to know why we were using certain techniques, and expand my medical knowledge,” she says. Danene worked in the field while studying at Manor, an experience she recommends to current students – especially those who are visual learners, like her. “It is so helpful to work part time [with animals], or volunteer while you’re in school. It puts things in perspective, opens doors, builds relationships, and allows you to apply what you’re learning.” After graduating, she went on to work as a Vet Tech in a clinic for several years, and notes that her education at Manor gave her the hands-on experience she needed in order to feel comfortable suggesting new ways to improve the clinic’s day-to-day operations. “Manor did an excellent job of preparing us for our careers.” Danene is now a Readiness Coordinator who works with a team of veterinarians, coordinators, and care specialists. An average day consists of teaching students, educating member organizations, examining and improving protocol, and conducting research. Over the past several years she has contributed to multiple spill response exercises, training workshops, and response plans. People might be surprised that wildlife emergency rehabilitation isn’t always what one might expect after seeing commercials or documentaries that condense the experience. “Although we do a lot of admin, there is urgency when emergencies happen,” explains Danene. “And it’s important to stabilize them first.” In fact, after an oil spill, animals are typically not cleaned off for the first 48 hours – during this period they receive a full health exam and initial care to ensure they are strong enough to survive the stressful cleaning process. Danene was part of the team that responded to the infamous Deepwater Horizon/BP spill, the largest marine oil spill in history. “Careers in wildlife and exotic care are obtainable, and they are available.” Vet Tech students today may wonder whether these types of opportunities are available to them, and Danene assures them that the answer is yes. “Careers in wildlife and exotic care are obtainable, and they are available. Zoos and rehabilitation centers are more medically-focused than ever, allowing for numerous opportunities for veterinary technicians to get involved.” Have an alumni story to submit? Contact!

Manor student graduates to further success

After graduation, Manor College alumni have different options for their next step in life. Some transfer to a four-year college or university, and some head straight into the workforce. Manor prepares students to take these next steps, and Andrew Clark, class of 2016 was prepared to continue his academic and athletic pursuits upon graduation.   Clark graduated from Manor in 2016 with an Associate in Science degree, having majored in Sports & Recreational Management. While at Manor, Clark was captain of the men’s soccer team. During his time as captain, the team achieved a 6-10 record. Clark has been very versatile on the field, playing in several positions such as goalie, striker and right back. After graduation, he transferred to Bryn Athyn College to continue his studies as a Business major and continued to hone his leadership skills as captain of the Bryn Athyn Lions Men’s Soccer team.   “I chose Manor before transferring because [Head Coach] John Dempster. And [Assistant Coach] Richard Patton were the first coaches who came and sat with me about playing in college,” Clark said. “I chose to go to Bryn Athyn because it was best for me financially. It was close to home, and it provided me the option of another two year of college soccer, which was important to me.”   Clark has been playing soccer since he was about four-years-old and has always loved the sport.   “Not only has it built me as a person, it has provided relationships that I will have throughout my life, whether that be players I consider my brothers or coaches I look up to as father figures,” he said.   While Clark says being a student-athlete brought on challenges such as keeping up with classes along with practices, games and workouts, he says he wouldn’t give it up for the world. Manor has been a big part of the learning experiences he’s gained in the last two years. Clark says, “I had bad times there, which include coming into preseason terribly out of shape during my freshman year due to an injury that happened during the offseason.  I’ve also had my good times here, which include getting praised for a good performance against Bryn Athyn during the sophomore preseason.”   Dempster says, “Andrew is hard worker, he never missed practice, he always played within himself, never complaining and always played the game the right way.” Clark attributes his success to Manor coaches, Dempster and Patton saying, “J.D. was always positive with me–had my back with everything, kept it real with me on the field, but off the field he was nothing but a friend,”   “The biggest person who helped me throughout my time at Manor was Patton. Honestly, the guy was my best friend. He would pick me up from my house everyday to give me rides to practices and games.” After moving on from Manor and being named captain at Bryn Athyn, Clark says he can attribute his success on the field to his hard work. “I’ll be the first person to tell you I’m not the most skillful player. I’m not going to ‘wow’ you with any of my soccer skills, but you will not out work me.”   Along with hard work and pushing yourself, Clark offered up some advice for those Manor students who are graduating this year and not quite sure what they are going to do next.   “Take that next step into getting your degree and starting your future. Use Manor as a building step to put yourself in a great position in getting your bachelor’s degree or starting a career, it’s such a good place to start out,” he said.    Looking into the future, Clark is aiming to have a great season next year, graduate with his Bachelor’s degree dnd put his all into everything to see where it takes him. His time at Manor prepared him for what is coming next, and he encourages everyone to take advantage of all the resources Manor provides.