Anna Hillegonda Baauw
I’m happy to introduce myself as the current chair of the EWDA Student Chapter. I’ve been one of the country representatives for Belgium in the past year, after getting to know the EWDA during the London symposium in 2016. I’m looking forward to contribute to the EWDA Student Chapter as a whole now and hope that we can continue to build a strong, family-like network of wildlife health passionates throughout Europe.
In 2014, I graduated in Forest and Nature Conservation at Wageningen University. During my master, I realized two, or maybe three things. First of all, the importance of collaboration between different disciplines, such as ecology, veterinary and medical science. Luckily, the concept of ‘OneHealth’ was gaining popularity at that time, and therefore I could easily explore pieces of those interactions. During my internship, I worked on the survival of (human) pathogens in different types of soil. For my master thesis, I did research on the interactions between ticks, animal hosts and different environmental habitat types in a nature area in South Africa.
The second thing I realized was a bit more complicated to deal with: I decided that, after all, I still wanted to become a vet. The result of this, is that I’m now a fourth year veterinary student at Ghent University. Although it is a long way to go, I love being in in vet school. At the same time, the ecologist in me was missing the wildlife, the linkages with nature, biodiversity, society. I started to visit conferences on biodiversity conservation and wildlife health to make that connection. In October I attended the EWDA student chapter symposium in London. Not only the talks were great; I also totally felt at home. It really felt like we all belonged to one big family. The passion and the enthusiasm I experienced there, encouraged me to start a wildlife student group back home.
My dream for the EWDA Student Chapter is that we’ll be a great network of students, where we support each other, connect students, teachers and practitioners with similar passions, and also create educational opportunities (lectures, excursions, courses etc.) for students to prepare themselves for a career in wildlife conservation or other nature-society-veterinary-interdisciplinary work (OneHealth would be a shorter word to say the same…). Ultimately, my dream is that our generation will contribute to a world in which wildlife regains more space, and that the EWDA Student Chapter will support students of working towards this dream.
I’m very much looking forward to my new ‘job’. I hope that I can contribute to the EWDA by building on a larger, stronger European student network, and locally by creating a passionate, supportive atmosphere for other students that dream of a career in wildlife. And since we cannot do this on our own… please feel free to contact us at any time if you have ideas for the EWDA at an international or local level!