Student Spotlight: Glenn Perricone
Glenn Perricone begrudgingly embarked on a service learning project at College of DuPage and discovered a career.
As he started his second year at COD, Perricone enrolled in “Environmental Ethics,” which required him to complete 15 hours of service learning. He was not looking forward to the experience.
“I was a very high-strung and stressed Political Science student and found such a commitment annoying,” he said. “Nevertheless, a week or two later, I found myself walking through the volunteer fair looking at a plethora of amazing volunteer opportunities that the College had set up. I walked past a table without even gazing at it when a voice behind me called out, ‘Glenn? Glenn Perricone, is that you?’ It was Debbie Brooks, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County volunteer services coordinator and, coincidentally, a family friend. In less than two minutes, she convinced me to volunteer with the Forest Preserve at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, across the street from campus.”
Perricone volunteered in animal care and performed such duties as preparing diets, feeding, cleaning and providing enrichment for the wildlife, which included hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, Sandhill cranes, songbirds, raccoons, mice, turtles, falcons and a bobcat. By the end of four weeks, he met the requirement of 15 hours and kept going, accumulating more than 40 hours by the end of the term.
In addition to making lifelong friendships at Willowbrook Wildlife Center, Perricone discovered a passion for birds and has become an avid birdwatcher. So far, he has traveled the eastern half of the United States and seen more than 300 species of birds
Perricone also joined the education team at Willowbrook Wildlife Center as a Raptor Interpreter, which allows him to share his enthusiasm and knowledge about birds through formal education programs with Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. He visits schools across DuPage County and exhibits biofacts such as feathers, talons and skulls in addition to partnering with birds of prey, such as a Peregrine Falcon.
“Volunteering has become an irreplaceable aspect of my life,” he said. “It is something I enjoy and look forward to every week because of the great satisfaction I receive from helping wildlife and teaching the public.”
The Service Learning experience had such a profound effect on Perricone that he switched majors to pursue Biology. Perricone earned his associate’s degree from College of DuPage and transferred to Elmhurst College, where in 2016 he earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology. His goal is to become a naturalist.
“It is exciting for me to think that my educational journey has come full circle,” he said. “Having great naturalists such as Ron Skleney and Jack MacRae inspire me to pursue my passion of birds and nature, and this never would have happened had I not participated in COD’s Service Learning program. Soon, I will be an environmental educator or naturalist and will hopefully inspire future generations in the same way.”
He is thankful that College of DuPage provided that foundation for his career.
“College of DuPage was an extremely affordable education opportunity out of high school and I immediately found that the courses offered were high quality, and some were very unique to the exceptional professors teaching them, such as Professors Chris Goergen and Jim Allen’s ‘Utopian Seminar,’ Professor Lynda Randa’s ‘Prairie Ecology’ and Professor Robert Andrini’s birdwatching offerings,” he said.
“The best advice that I can give COD students or those thinking of attending COD is to figure out what you are really passionate about. Find that one thing that you love more than anything else, that one thing you think, do and dream of that makes your heart most content. For some, it’s music; for others, it is art or helping people. For me it is nature. Whatever it is, find it and take advantage of every opportunity that you have to pursue your passion. And if you cannot figure out what your passion is, still take every possible opportunity to try something new or different because, like I discovered, you won’t know that something is your passion if you’re missing it. Take it from a Poly-Sci major turned Bio major who found his passion and, like a Peregrine Falcon, dived in head first!”
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