Celebrating Our Youth Leaders: Isla Wilson
Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, a sustainable coastal farm in Freeport, ME, is the place where Isla Wilson first started working with animals. As a young child, Isla’s family would visit Maine on the weekends from Boston and find themselves spending time at the farm. There, Isla learned how to care for the animals and milk the cows. That early connection with animals continued to be a driving force throughout her young life.
A Volunteer Position Leads to Career Aspirations
As a freshman at Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland, Isla directed her interest in animal welfare to a volunteer position at Midcoast Humane a few summers ago. She started at the organization as a dog caretaker, cleaning kennels, socializing them, making dog food and doing clicker training. From there, she learned behavior training and modification―a discipline she really loves―from one of the organization’s lead behavioral specialists. At Midcoast Humane Isla had the opportunity to make her own way and was truly treated by staff and other volunteers as an equal despite any age difference. That experience and a visit with a close family friend who is currently attending veterinary school provided stepping stones to Isla’s career aspiration of becoming a Veterinarian.
Top Advocate for Animal Welfare
Isla became active in several of the Midcoast Humane’s public events, including their Save a Stray 5K & Festival and annual fundraisers. She also provides support at their “puppy events,” in which puppies from the South are brought to Midcoast Humane for life-saving veterinary care and adoption.
Last fall, Isla was instrumental in organizing and running a fundraising event as part of Freeport’s 3-day Fall Festival. She worked with shelter staff and several dog-friendly business partners in Freeport to create a scavenger hunt through their shops. She even created promotional bandanna’s for the dogs to wear. The event raised over $700. Isla’s ability to make connections between humans and animals, bridge misunderstanding, and facilitate conversation around animal welfare have all proven to be invaluable skills for her success.
By volunteering over 300 hours to make sure the animals of Midcoast Humane are clean, fed, healthy, and active, Isla is one of the organization’s top advocates.
Using School Time for Clinical Work
As a student at Baxter Academy, Isla is currently taking an online biology class with medical school prep courses to come. On Fridays, through her school’s “independent project time” program, she interns at Brunswick Veterinary Clinic, where she’s gaining real-world clinical experience, such as trimming nails, restraining animals, giving vaccines, drawing blood, and doing lab work.
A Clear Path for Her Future Abroad
Isla is a bit different from other teenagers her age in that she has always known what she wanted to do and has been motivated to follow her own path. She is a self-described introvert, but really enjoys the social aspect of advocating for animals. Noting dog’s high emotional intelligence, she describes her ability to read their body language and understand their comfort levels as ways she connects with them so easily.
With dual citizenship in the United Kingdom, Isla has her sights on attending an international veterinary school, probably in the U.K., where she stays in touch with close family friends.
Giving Back to Midcoast Humane
Isla Wilson is a shining star for those who know her, including her furry friends. Her determined focus, inspiring work, and passion for animals shines through whether she’s training a puppy, sharing feedback with a pet owner or working with business owners to raise funds. Her advocacy work is greatly appreciated by her colleagues at Midcoast Humane and Berman & Simmons is delighted to name Isla as one our Youth Leaders Award recipients.
At Isla’s request, she has declined receiving money for her education and has asked Berman & Simmons to donate both the sponsorship award and her educational award ($750 total) to the Midcoast Humane.