Conservation and Science Technician
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Year zoo career began:
Elizabeth Braatz is a Conservation and Science Technician at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Elizabeth never imagined that being a butterfly scientist could even be a job, but she is very excited that it is, because bug science rocks! Elizabeth works as a conservation and science technician with a butterfly and pollinator focus. On a day-to-day basis, Elizabeth might be found analyzing insect data, conducting insect and plant surveys at a solar site, and sharing the team's findings and stories with others. Elizabeth also helped conserve a rare species of butterfly, the Atala hairstreak butterfly. She and other Disney teammates raised over 3,000 imperiled butterflies and shipped them to restored habitat. Through her work and master’s program, Elizabeth has co-authored three papers on the following topics: the impact of an invasive fungus on butterfly habitat, creating baby food for young caterpillars being raised in the lab, and backyard habitats.
Elizabeth has always had a passion for the environment- some of her fondest memories are searching for bugs while camping with her family across Wisconsin. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and a Master of Science in Entomology from the University of Florida. Before beginning her current position, Elizabeth worked as a biological technician intern for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as a volunteer for the Monarch Lab in Minnesota, and as an Assistant Write for the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships at the University of Minnesota Extension.
Elizabeth’s favorite part of her job is the variety- she really enjoys constantly learning and doing different things. Her advice for aspiring butterfly scientists is to be persistent! Sometimes, this field can be like a catch-22 -- everyone wants people to have experience, but how do you gain experience when you don't have any? Keep being persistent in asking about opportunities, volunteering for ones that come up, and if you don't get the first, or second, or third internship, keep asking around and working to improve yourself. There IS a place for you in the zoology world. Sometimes, it just takes some time to find your niche.