By Kaitlin Burt, Sustainability Intern
At the “Greenest Zoo in America”, we are constantly working to make the zoo and the visitors experience as green as possible. An important aspect of doing this is getting the word out and educating our visitors. This summer we are lucky to have a great group of teens that are doing just that. These teens are known as the Green Teens and this is the Zoo’s third summer having them volunteer with us. The Green Teens rotate their time between multiple stations such as the Go Green Garden, the Aquaponics Greenhouse, the Base Camp Café, and teaching about Vermicomposting at Insect World. With the help of these Green Teens, we are able to educate and answer any questions the visitors might have on what the Zoo is doing to go green, as well as help make our guests have a positive visitor experience to the Zoo.
Many of our teens have volunteered with us for multiple summers, and we are so grateful to have them! Below is an interview done with three of our current Green Teens, all returning Green Teens and are very knowledgeable about the Zoo’s green efforts. Candice is a junior at Oak Hills High School, Christine is a sophomore at Ursula High School, and Hailey is a freshman at Campbell County High School.
1. What is your favorite green initiative the Zoo has implemented?
a. Candice: Aquaponics
b. Christine: Solar Canopy
c. Hailey: Solar Canopy
2. What is the most interesting thing you have learned about while being a Green Teen?
a. Candice: That 80% of waste can be diverted from landfills by composting and recycling
b. Christine: That food utensils can be made to be compostable
c. Hailey: Learning about the Aquaponics system and how you can make your own no waste habitat
3. What is your favorite Green Teen station (The Aquaponics Greenhouse, The Go Green Garden, or Vermicomposting at Insect World) to volunteer with?
a. Candice: Go Green Garden
b. Christine: Go Green Garden
c. Hailey: Vermicomposting at Insect World
4. Why did you come back to be a Green Teen this year?
a. Candice: Because I had so much fun last year
b. Christine: I enjoy volunteering at the zoo and being around other green teens
c. Hailey: Because I always have a lot of fun here and I like being near animals
5. What is your favorite memory/story from working at the Zoo this summer?
a. Candice: While transporting the worm bin back and forth between Insect World, giving brief synopsis on vermicomposting to everyone who is interested, and reaching people who might not normally be interested in composting.
b. Christine: Helping a family learn how to start vermicomposting at their own house
c. Hailey: At Insect World, getting little kids excited about the worms and interested in composting
6. What is your favorite exhibit or animal at the zoo?
a. Candice: Manatees and CREW
b. Christine: Manatee Springs
c. Hailey: Wolves and Painted Dogs
7. What is one skill you will take away from this experience?
a. Candice: Public Speaking
b. Christine: Keeping calm with large groups of people
c. Hailey: Public Speaking, and learning to shorten my stories
8. What are your future Career Plans? What do you hope to study in college?
a. Candice: Wants to major in biology and maybe work with CREW one day
b. Christine: Wants to major in biology in college so she can be a zoologist for National Geographic
c. Hailey: Wants to be an exhibit interpreter or run her own animal training business
9. If you could have everyone perform one conservation action, what would it be?
a. Candice: Stop mining all together
b. Christine: For everyone to recycle
c. Hailey: For everyone to compost and recycle and reduce what goes to the landfill
10. What advice would you give future Green Teens?
a. Candice: Read the info packet, practice speaking, and have fun!
b. Christine: Keep up to date on what’s going on at the zoo
c. Hailey: Get to know your audience
These young ladies, along with 17 other teens, have increased their public speaking skills, customer service skills, and knowledge about sustainability. With these young men and women, the Zoo is able to continue to share its story about being the “Greenest Zoo in America.”
The Zoo’s VolunTeen program is open to teens ages 13-17 with opportunities such as the Green Teens as well as opportunities in Horticulture, Education, and with T.R.I.B.E. For more information, visit http://cincinnatizoo.org/support/volunteer/ and click on the VolunTeens Tab.