Christy Weinhold, daughter of St. Louis County Police Sgt. Richard Weinhold, EOW 10/31/00, has learned that her father passed down his passion for animals and service.
Christy has dedicated her life to making the world a better and safer place for animals. This passion for helping animals was also shared by her father. As she puts it, “My dad was a huge animal lover and advocate for conservation. He donated to local animal shelters and had this cool photo from National Geographic framed of a wolf pup that says, ‘It’s my world too!’. I have that hanging in my room and it is a reminder that even though I was only three years old when my dad died, it sounds like our passions are similar.”
Christy majored in Nonprofit Leadership and Communication at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. She later found out that she and her father were even more aligned, “He was studying nonprofit work at Lindenwood University when he died. I had no idea that was the case when I chose my major so that was surreal to hear from my mom. It means a lot to me that I can carry out a part of his life that he did not get to finish.”
During her college career, Christy was able to take part in unforgettable and hands-on experiences. She was accepted into the Pryor Leadership Program, which included a two-week Outward Bound course in the Florida Everglades. The course emphasizes leadership practices and growth in an intense environment with no luxuries such as electricity and cell phones.
Christy was also offered a Journey Grant that allowed her to travel to Paseo de los Monos, a monkey sanctuary in Puyo, Ecuador. Being a nonprofit animal organization, this opportunity was a perfect fit for Christy. She shares what her experience in Ecuador was like, “I cared for monkeys and other native wildlife that were rescued from exotic animal traffickers or previously domesticated pets. This trip was very challenging as I was alone and thrown into the edge of the Amazon Jungle where no one spoke English. It was an incredible experience to work closely with those animals and be fully immersed in the culture.”
Following graduation, Christy headed to Monterey, California for a six-month long animal care internship at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the Sea Otter Rescue and Conservation Program. “This internship was an absolute dream come true. I waited over a year to apply and was so happy that I got to do it. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a wonderful organization that is known for their unprecedented work replenishing the sea otter population. I got to bottle feed and groom sea otter pups and contribute to groundbreaking ocean conservation efforts.”
Moving to another state and diving into an internship is a big change. Christy reflects on that transition, “My mom and I drove from Missouri to California over a couple of days. She dropped my dog and me off at our new apartment and flew home. I did not know anybody in the area, and it was my first time living alone but it was awesome to drive into work every day with an ocean view. It was the best six months of my life.”
From Ecuador to California, Christy has gained invaluable experience and knowledge in her field. She shares where she is now and her plans for the future, “After my internship I wanted to stay in the nonprofit sector, so I took an Adoption Counselor position at the Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis. I was recently promoted to Lead Adoption Counselor. I love finding rescue animals their forever homes. I hope to get back into the wildlife conservation and rehabilitation field soon when job opportunities start popping up again. I would love to make it back to the Sea Otter Program in Monterey one day or another wildlife rescue in the future.”
We are incredibly proud of Christy and the work she does for animals in our community and beyond. She explains how BackStoppers helped her and her family, “Without BackStoppers, I would not have been able to have the education that I received that allowed me these amazing opportunities. I want supporters to know that even though you may not get to meet everyone impacted by BackStoppers, your support is life-changing. My family would be in a very different and worse place without the support of BackStoppers. My mom would not have been present in our lives. The support we received took such a daunting burden off my mom who was raising four young children by herself. She was able to be home with us, go to volleyball games, attend school field trips, and help at soccer practice all because of BackStoppers.”