Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cal Poly intern gets up close and personal with Alaska reindeer

University of California Polytechnic State University student Elaina Cromer hadn't even seen reindeer, except possibly at a zoo, when she arrived in Alaska for a summer internship. That soon changed.

Cal Poly intern Elaina Cromer, right, helps out during a farm tour July 27. Also pictured are Jennifer Robinette and Henry, the reindeer.
The animal sciences major was encouraged to take the gig helping with the University of Alaska Fairbanks reindeer herd by her advisor because of she is minoring in rangeland management. "It was the perfect fit for me," Cromer said.

She hit the ground running by heading straight to Nome and then traveled to Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island. "I loved meeting the people," Cromer said. "The most important thing was the people I met so I could understand where they are coming from.

"I loved working with the people and the reindeer and the land, all of that."

Back in Fairbanks, she has been helping with Reindeer Research Program tasks at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm. During a farm tour July 27 she got to take a turn answering questions from the public about reindeer and she is helping RRP Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Robinette plan a reindeer camp for rural youths.

Cromer will long remember her adventures and the people of Alaska. "They reached out to me and helped me learn," she said. "They have been inviting. I've learned a lot, from zero to everything in  a month."

The Ohio native would love to come back to Alaska, but isn't completely committed just yet. "I want to see what opportunities open up next," she said. "I know I want to work outdoors and work with people and animals. There are a lot of issues people are facing with food and sustainability."

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