Scot Summer Stories: Megan Kaplan

For our Scot Summer Stories, we're catching up with a few of our student-athletes to see what they have been up to this summer. In this week's feature we talk with Megan Kaplan, a rising sophomore on the cross country and track and field teams. Megan is interning at the National Aviary, a nonprofit zoo dedicated to birds in Pittsburgh, Pa. She assists the philanthropy department in projects related to events, donor communication and fundraising strategies.

Megan handles a baby lorikeet at the 
National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Q: Tell us what you're doing at the National Aviary.

A: I am working for the Philanthropy department at the National Aviary. The National Aviary receives no federal funding and very little through the state. That means that we rely heavily on donations from foundations, corporations and individual donors. I am helping to gather information on possible donors, write grants for donations and everything in-between!

Q: Walk us through a normal day for you. 

A: A normal day for me starts at about 8:30 a.m. I check in with my supervisor and get my tasks for the day. A lot of my tasks revolve around our two big fundraising events coming up: Night in the Tropics and Ladies Night Out. I will make calls to possible donors for those events and write up language describing them. My supervisor is really good about giving me a variety of tasks and ensuring that the things that I do daily are meaningful – so I get to help write real proposals and sit in on meetings daily.

Throughout the day, as I feel I need a break from writing, writing, writing, I will walk around the Aviary and say hi to our animal population! I always make sure to find Wookie – our two-toed sloth - who is very good at hiding in the trees, as well as say hello to our two Hyacinth McCaw's Benito and Saphira because they just adore attention, and our African penguin colony as they have quite the show going on at all times.  

Q: Why did you want to intern at the National Aviary?

A: I wanted to intern at the Aviary because, quite simply, I love animals, and I wanted to help an organization whose cause I was passionate about.   

Q: Has this experience so far brought you closer to deciding upon a major? 

A: I have always planned to be a sociology major and while that is still true, I have decided to also either double major or minor in Environmental Studies! I really love the aspect of my internship where I get to describe to other organizations the importance of our work. I was struggling with what discipline that interest fell under and how best to get on a path for a career in animal advocacy. The common assumption is biology, but I knew that was something that did not interest me. But then I remembered the new environmental studies major/minor and it aligns perfectly with what I want to do!

Q: When your internship wraps up what are you hoping to accomplish and takeaway from your experience?

A: I am hoping to have gained a true sense of the philanthropy field, as well as a sense of what kind of work happens at a non-profit outside of philanthropy. Especially at a place like the Aviary, there are so many different departments that all work together, I really hope to learn if philanthropy is truly the department that I fit in the best, or if there is another area of non-profit work that I would fit better. 


About APEX Fellowships

APEX Fellowships offer structure and mentored support to students engaged in unpaid summer internships or vocational exploration programs of at least six weeks (or at least 225 hours) in duration. The fellowship includes funding, a learning contract, regular structured reflection, final reflective assignment and evaluation, on-campus reporting, and ongoing staff support. This summe the College's experiential learning team funded 60 such fellowships. To learn more about the College's APEX Fellowship program click here.