Conservation Research Associate
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Year zoo career began:
Shannon Farmer is a New College of Florida Conservation Research Associate based at Disney’s Animal Kingdom where her current job is an exciting opportunity to work with researchers to find ways that Disney and their guests can be good stewards of the earth. Shannon’s job duties include looking at the biodiversity of pollinators and their host plants in the Solar Array fields to ensure that they are making the best management decisions. Shannon also helps with Disney’s Purple Martin projects where they track the birds that stop for breeding at Disney. Every day is different for Shannon- some days she could be doing data entry, while other days she could be looking at an insect under a microscope or out in the field putting bands on Purple Martin chicks. Her role is adaptable, and she could just as easily work independently on research or with a team to decide on the best conservation efforts for outreach projects.
Shannon grew up in Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay where she spent time fishing with her family. Her first official animal job was as a “cat socializer volunteer” with the Annapolis SPCA. Shannon earned an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science with a Biology minor. She worked as a research assistant as a GIS technician and as a nematology technician in college. She also had unpaid internships at the Philadelphia Zoo where she worked as an Animal Behavior and Education intern and an Animal Husbandry intern. Shannon became a paid intern at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as an Education Presenter while studying for her undergraduate degree. She went on to be a part time Marine Educator at Epcot’s the Seas with Nemo and Friends as well as Seaworld. After working part time she achieved a full time role at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as an Interpretive Keeper Trainee. Those experiences lead Shannon to her current position as a Research Technician. Shannon has a master’s certificate from the University of Denver in Environmental Policy and Management with an emphasis on Natural Resource Management.
Shannon’s favorite part of her job is the variety- she can see so many cool projects and has the chance to work with a lot of great people. It was an important career goal of hers to stay active and engaged in projects that helped her natural curiosity. Shannon advises aspiring zoo professionals to kick open doors and be confident in who you are and your experiences. Sit in spaces and learn all you can even if you don’t feel particularly welcome. Find a community of like-minded people who can support, challenge, and uplift you. Say yes to opportunities you never thought you'd be interested in; chances are you'll find out something about yourself that you never realized. She says if you can find the balance between humility and confidence while maintaining a respectful and engaging manner (in your own unique way) you can get far. Be willing to work, but also know your worth.