Sept. 7, 2023

‘Imagine all the places you’ll go’


Gaining experience abroad in your career field is possible through NDSU’s Study Abroad Services.

Anna Rustad, a senior animal biomedical science major, has always loved animals, and she’s always wanted an opportunity to study abroad while following her passion.

This summer Rustad travelled to South Africa and Australia, where she learned more about wildlife conservation and zoological medicine.

“Australia always has been on my bucket list just because of the unique wildlife and exotic animals that are nowhere else in the world. And then I learned about the South Africa trip and I was like ‘this sounds really cool,’” said Rustad, who is from Iola, Wisconsin.

In South Africa, Rustad volunteered at Lory Park Animal and Owl Sanctuary where she was able to study big cats and work with primates. Rustad volunteered at the Walkabout Wildlife Park in Australia, where she cared for kangaroos, dingoes and other native wildlife.

Rustad was able to work on an enrichment project at the end of each trip that created mentally and physically stimulating activities and environments for the animals. Rustad’s projects worked with cheetahs in South Africa and dingoes in Australia.

While she had prior experience working with enrichment projects in her courses at NDSU, studying abroad provided a broader experience for working with more animals.

“I really enjoyed learning about how to do it with non-domesticated animals,” Rustad said. “They are captive. A lot of them are habituated to humans already. So finding unique ways to add things from what they would get out of the wild into a captive setting was pretty cool.”

Both trips helped Rustad learn more about zoo management and husbandry, including how to manage wildlife with a focus on conservation. Another area of study surrounded poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. During her time in South Africa, Rustad took a safari in Kruger National Park to learn more about the topic. 

In addition to learning more about wildlife conservation, Rustad was also able to learn about South Africa and Australia.

“We got to learn more about the history about both countries, which was super cool especially since both of the people who were teaching us were very close to their country,” she said. 

Rustad was able to work with NDSU’s Study Abroad Services to learn about other student’s study abroad experiences, which ultimately led her to apply to a third-party provider that offers animal science and veterinary programs abroad for students. Rustad also received two scholarships from the animal sciences department to help provide financial support for both trips. 

Tanya Kramer, the assistant director of Study Abroad Services, said her advice for students thinking of studying abroad is to plan ahead.

“Look into it early so you can make a plan that fits your academic schedule and any other considerations; our staff is here to help,” Kramer said. “Also, just do it. This is the perfect time to experience the world while still progressing towards your degree. Imagine all the places you’ll go.”

Rustad’s advice is similar. 

“If it’s going to help you in your schooling and in your future and you get that amazing opportunity to see what life is like in a different country, it’s worth every bit of money,” she said.

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