Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo: Animal Care Assistant
Dalton Berry ‘21 translates love of science to zoology career
It didn’t take much convincing for Dalton Berry ’21 to choose Concordia University, Nebraska to continue his education. He’d grown up in Seward and his parents, Jason ’94 and Julie (Parde) Berry ’94 were alums, as was his older brother Cole Berry ’17. (His younger brother, Chase Berry ’23, would follow soon after). Plus, he knew that at a smaller school like Concordia, he could continue pursuing both pole vaulting and jazz band and not have to choose just one extracurricular.
What Dalton didn’t expect is the way Concordia’s science program grabbed hold of him. “I was interested in science, but I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go with it,” Dalton says. “But all the professors and the other students in the biology program helped amplify my love of biology and science as a whole.”
Dalton found that he particularly enjoyed the organismal classes and fieldwork. “The get-out-there, get-dirty kind of work,” he says. “That’s what I really like.”
Dr. Jen Fruend, associate professor of biology, noticed Dalton’s passion and helped him cultivate it. “Dr. Fruend was a big inspiration for me,” he says. “If you’ve met her at all, you can tell that she is clearly very passionate about the sciences, specifically everything to do with plants, animals, things that crawl, things that run, things that fly; she’s into all of it.”
After graduation, Dalton got an internship working for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, a position that turned into a full-time career. He’s currently working as a keeper in the aquarium, specifically working with the penguins, though in the summer, he’ll go back to working with the outdoor birds, as he did during his internship. “Being a zoologist was something I didn’t originally plan on,” he says, “but it was something that I had thought about since I was a little kid. Now I get to answer the questions of kids who come to the zoo and are so curious about the animals. That used to be me.”
It's the dream job that he didn’t even know he’d been dreaming about. “I feel like Concordia gave me the knowledge of biology as a whole which has helped me to stay up to speed with the crazy life that happens here at the zoo,” Dalton says. “I’m still learning a lot here, but Concordia laid the groundwork for that.”