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Ever Wrangled a T-Rex? These People Have

A lot of kids dream of one day being able to grow up and work with exotic animals, some even watch Jurassic World and want to be the next dinosaur handler. The Staff of Field Station: Dinosaurs get to live out that latter dream. We spoke with two individuals who get to spend a lot of time with "T" the Baby Tyrannosaurus Rex at Field Station: Dinosaur here is what they have to say about working with dinosaurs every day. 

Dinosaur Troubadour

What is your name and job title?
Sophie Miller, Dinosaur Troubadour

Why did you apply?
I applied for this job after my friend sent it to me on Facebook. As I was looking at the descriptions of all the jobs, I saw Dinosaur Troubadour and the first line said, “You have to play guitar.” I’ve been playing guitar my whole life so I thought this would be fun because it’s my absolute favorite thing to do. So when I applied, I made it very clear I wanted the opportunity to become a Troubadour, and thankfully they called me back to do an audition.

What skill/skills do you attribute to helping you succeed in this job?
I have been playing the guitar for about 10 years, so that came naturally to me. In high school, I was in Forensics which helped create my love for talking to people.

What have been some of the best moments on the job?
One of the best moments was our first Saturday on opening day. A little girl named Izzy was celebrating her birthday and I didn't know the dinosaur birthday song so I just sang her happy birthday. She came back about an hour and a half later and she gave me this little tiny, clear piece of hard plastic and said, “I really want you to have this, you keep this.” I told her "thank you" and that I’d keep it, and she flipped out! She was so excited that I wanted it. And I still have it- it’s in my purse right now. It’s really cool when kids look up to you and are excited to see you.

What were you surprised about?
I was surprised by the music I had to learn. I didn’t know I was going to learn so many songs and the complexity of the songs I had to learn. I thought they were going to be very simple, but the songs ended up being very educational and informative, and I love that.

What is some advice you have for younger kids that want this job?
Practice your guitar! You’ll be playing it all day long. Sometimes I even go home and continue practicing after getting off work. Practice anything you can musically - practice singing. Get into things that deal with speech or public speaking. You have to be able to talk to people easily. And, of course, brush up on your dinosaur facts because people will ask you!

What are some challenges you had to overcome?
I had to get used to performing in front of people. I’d done theatre in high school, but I wasn’t ever the “main” person so I always had more behind-the-scenes roles. For example, my first day at Field Station: Dinosaurs was the VIP night. This was the night before the park opened and they told me that over 500 people RSVP’d. So, I realized I should get over my stage fright and be ready to perform no matter how I’m feeling that day.


Dinosaur Handler

Name/ job title
My name is Seth Walentowski, I’m a Dinosaur Handler. My responsibility is making sure T (the baby T. rex) is ready for the show.

Why did you apply?
I applied because I had been doing ventriloquism, which is working with ventriloquist dummies and puppets, for about 15 years.

What is the best part of this job?
Interacting with all the kids. Working with T is my favorite position and it’s fun to get up close with the audience because T brings a bit of a fear factor while still being fun.

What are the best moments of the job?
It’s great interacting with all the guests and answering questions about T and how he walks around. It’s just super fun interacting with them and giving them an experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

When you were a kid, did you ever imagine you would have this job?
I’ve always wanted to do something with puppets or ventriloquism, so doing something like this now is a great experience for me. So, I’m very happy.

What are the hazards to the job?
The heat is a major factor - when I’m working with T it gets very hot because there’s no air conditioning. Before we opened we actually had to do an endurance test to make sure we could handle it.

What are some challenges you had to overcome?
I had to learn to be more “out there” practicing my speech and being loud and enthusiastic. Also endurance for when we’re working with T.

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