The program is primarily for individuals who are already experienced in working with captive wildlife in general or birds specifically. It is designed to provide a broad range of instruction in waterfowl aviculture, as well as specific techniques that may or may not be used at other institutions, such as zoos.

In order to accomplish this goal, we use an immersion instruction method (considered by numerous educators to be the most successful) that occurs on the grounds of the Avian Breeding Preserve. The method includes directive instruction, interactive questioning, repetition through practical application, and additional Q&A in the evening after completion of the day's activities. The only form of passive instruction is from the highly acclaimed Avian Husbandry Manual, written by Sylvan Heights' founder, Mike Lubbock, which is given to interns when they arrive at Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Center. The program offers interns the opportunity to work side by side with Mike Lubbock, considered by many to be the world's foremost authority on waterfowl husbandry. There is also time available to work with Sylvan Heights' Curator of Aviculture, Nick Hill, who has earned a highly respected reputation internationally for his knowledge in egg hatching techniques.

Program Requirements:


18 years of age

Capable of lifting 50 lbs.

Able to work outdoors in a rustic environment

Assist staff with the morning care and maintenance routine at the Avian Breeding Center

Must have your own health insurance

Must provide your own transportation to and from the Center

One and two-week stays available

Sylvan Heights will provide housing and meals for those who have been accepted in the program and continue to meet the program requirements.


Avian Husbandry Manual and Waterfowl ID Handbook


Upon successful completion of the program, participants will receive a Certificate of Proficiency in Avian Husbandry & Management from Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Center. Participants also receive a copy of the Avian Husbandry & Management Manual, which is exclusive to those attending the Avian Program. The Avian Manual contains information attained during Mike Lubbock's 45 years of avicultural experience. Combined with the Program's hands-on training, the Avian Manual unveils the secrets for successful waterfowl breeding and care.


Past Participant Institutions

During recent years, interns at Sylvan Heights have come from many of the finest biological institutions in the nation, including:


Akron Zoo

Baltimore Zoo

Birmingham Zoo

Brevard Zoo, Florida

Brookfield Zoo, Chicago

Bronx Zoo

Busch Gardens Tampa

Central Park Zoo

Denver Zoo

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Georgia Southern University, Center for Wildlife Education

Fort Worth Zoo

Front Royal Conservation Research Center, Virginia

Jurong BirdPark, Singapore

Knoxville Zoo

Milwaukee County Zoo

Montgomery Zoo

National Aviary

New England Aquarium

North Carolina Aquariums

North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

North Carolina Zoological Park

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma, Washington

Prospect Park Zoo, New York

Racine Zoo

Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Syracuse, New York

Palm Beach Zoo

Saint Louis Zoo

SeaWorld San Antonio

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld San Diego

Smithsonian National Zoo

Zoo Atlanta