By Carrie Martin
Micah Che grew up in San Jose with his parents, younger brother and family beagle, JoJo. He attended the Orion Academy, which required him to commute two hours every day. In 2014, the Laboratory’s Abilities Champions Employee Resource Group and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs partnered with Orion to develop an internship program for their students. Che connected with the Laboratory through this program.
One of Che’s hobbies is conceiving and writing stories and drawing characters to illustrate them. While he enjoys researching and developing aspects of these stories, he has always loved animals, which in turn inspired him to become actively involved in wildlife conservation and preservation.
“I am honestly unsure where my interest in wildlife conservation began,” Che said. “I feel I have always been into animals, but suspect it began taking off with my enjoyment of reading animal fact nonfiction books from the library as a child. Over time, this got me interested and now one of my interests is in helping animals and wildlife. I know a lot about several species of animals in our world and am invested in information on their conservation.”
Che’s knowledge and interest in wildlife and nature led him to volunteer at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, a local wildlife rehabilitation center, when he was 17. “I was seeking to find something else to do in my free time, while contributing to society,” Che said. “There, I do laundry, clean things up, wash the dishes and feed the animals. A notably enjoyable part of feeding the animals is providing milk formula to baby squirrels. While they can be challenging to work with at times, feeding them is always a pleasure and they are just downright adorable.”
Through his volunteer work, Che has made connections with other staff members. “Volunteering has helped me to develop better communication and cooperation skills. Making connections with other people has also helped me develop a sense of judgement to analyze the situation in each enclosure and to organize the tasks provided by the center staff.”
Unfortunately, Che’s opportunities to volunteer have been limited recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Despite the limited volunteering opportunities at this time, I still occasionally donate clothes to serve as bedding to the center. I eagerly await the time where I can return to volunteering at the Wildlife Center.”
Che’s summer project at the Lab will be to update the educational placards at Lake Haussmann under the direction of Chris Campbell from the Environmental, Safety and Health Organization. In addition, he also is helping Campbell research data on decontamination.
Che hopes to pursue a degree in environmental engineering. “At the end of summer, I plan on moving to Berkeley to learn independence skills and continue community college before transferring to a full-time university.”