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Graduation for Zoo Academy Seniors is Just Around the Corner

Guest blogger: Markala Washington Murray, Zoo Academy Senior

Hello! It’s Markala again. Previously I talked to you about what it’s like to be a Zoo student and where you apply to become a Zoo student (read that post here). It is now the end of my senior year here at the Zoo Academy. It’s both a sad time and a happy time for all us seniors; it marks both a beginning and an end to an incredible journey and tells us that we are ready for our next adventure to begin. But before I tell you that, let me tell you where I am right now.

As seniors, we have a big project to do called a Capstone. A Capstone is a reflection on what we have done over the past two years. You pick one subject that you would like to improve in an area in your field of study. Then you write a report on your subject and create a poster. The poster is a recap of what you have learned over the senior year and how you felt you did on your overall project. Lastly, you put together a portfolio of all the things you used to help you create and improve your project.

For my project, I focused on the protection and conservation of the Mexican gray wolves. I chose this subject because of the wolves we have here at the Zoo; our wolves are unable to be reintroduced, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does have a reintroduction program to help bring the population of the Mexican gray wolves back to where they use to be about a hundred years ago. However, now that the numbers have “reached agricultural success”, they have now declared an open hunting season for the wolves.

Mexican wolves at the Zoo

Mexican wolves at the Zoo

Our wolf exhibit is in an area called Wolf Woods that doesn’t get very much attention from visitors because it’s tucked behind our train station. So this made me want to tell the story of the wolves. For my project, I created a class to teach others about the conservation of the Mexican gray wolves. I used our senior and junior classes here at the Zoo Academy. First, I gave a short lecture on all of my findings on the wolves. Then I showed a video on the open hunting season. Lastly, I had my class do a scavenger hunt in the Wolf Woods exhibit. After doing this project, I now have I much greater respect for both the people and the wolves that have to live together.

Here I'm teaching the class.

Here I’m teaching the class.

Here I am with my poster.

Here I am with my poster.

Leaving the Zoo makes me sad because I now have to leave all the great people and animals I have befriended. I am now going on to the next step in my life. I have recently been accepted in to the school for animal behavior studies and associate science at Hocking College. Hocking is a two-year institution that focuses on nature education. I can’t wait to start in the fall!

April 30, 2014   No Comments

My Life as a Zoo Academy Student

Guest blogger: Brianna Williams

Hey you guys! My name is Brianna Williams and I am currently a senior at the Cincinnati Zoo Academy and I am so excited to share my story with you all!

Well, for starters, I have always loved animals. Growing up I had 5 dogs, 2 turtles, and some fish. My mom grew up in a large family and she always brought home abandoned or hurt animals such as squirrels, rabbits, frogs and even birds. My mom always let me be my own person and adventure outside to be in nature and observe animals.

When I was in 8th grade my family and I began searching for a high school for me to attend and we came across Hughes Stem at a high school fair. I was intrigued by one of the programs they offered in the 10th grade called the Zoo Academy. I had never even heard of it, but I had a passion for animals and education, so I took the offer and began at Hughes as a freshman. Throughout my freshman and sophomore year at Hughes they prepared me for the Zoo Academy and I was so excited to start working with animals!

At the Zoo Academy, I have gotten to see and experience some REALLY cool things from feeding a manatee to touching a cougar!! Being at the Zoo Academy has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I have met so many great and amazing people here and made a lot of new friends. You feel as you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. I feel like I have another family and home here.

These are my two best friends in one of our classrooms.

These are my two best friends in one of our classrooms.

Since being here it has opened so many new doors and opportunities. I have been offered several job opportunities and have the chance to be a volunteer this summer. I have also grown fond of the people I have met so far such as the wonderful crew at the Education Department. I have worked with some cool animals here such as Bonnie the Screaming Hairy Armadillo and Crystal the Ball Python.

 

Having fun hanging out with Bonnie, the screaming hairy armadillo

Having fun hanging out with Bonnie, the screaming hairy armadillo

The Zoo Academy has given me a backstage view of how the animals are taken care of and handled. I have prepared food for the animals, helped clean their enclosures and even interacted with some of the animals we have here. Seeing animals such as cheetahs, cougars, elephants, and rhinos up close is something I will never forget.

The Zoo Academy teachers are also amazing and the class sizes are small so you really get to know your peers and your teachers, not just by name, but as a person. It’s not every day you get to experience the amazing things that happen at the Cincinnati Zoo. The Zoo Academy prepares its students for college, and so many careers! We also learn about conservation and what we can do as a person to help make the world a better place.

This is my environmental science teacher, Mr. Schulte.

This is my environmental science teacher, Mr. Schulte.

In the future, I plan to attend Wright State University and become an educator for preschoolers. I want to continue my story through my students and teach them about the Zoo Academy and maybe one day when they are older they will attend this amazing school that is like no other! I hope that after I graduate my adventure here continues whether as a volunteer or a paid employee. I have come to love and appreciate the Zoo, the people and the animals.

Hey! Did you know that the Cincinnati Zoo is the ONLY zoo in the country that allows high school to interact with animals and work with keepers on a daily basis? Well you do now, so if your children love animals and plants, I would HIGHLY recommend the Zoo Academy. It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

Best of Luck, Brianna

 

February 25, 2014   1 Comment

Want to Go to School at the Cincinnati Zoo?

Hi, my name is Markala Washington Murray and I love animals. I’ve always had a passion for working with and helping animals whenever I could. That’s why going to school at the Zoo is the life I have always dreamed of and I love it. I grew up in a single mother home; I am the second oldest of five girls. None of my mom’s other girls like animals so she was scared when I said I wanted to go to school at the Zoo. After high school, I want to study animal behavior and conservation.

Here I am socializing Presley, our Apalachicola King Snake

Here I am socializing Presley, our Apalachicola King Snake

 

Going to school at the Cincinnati Zoo has been the best experience of my life. I have met some wonderful people who work here from the head honcho, Thane Maynard, to the groundskeepers. Every one of the Zoo staff family plays a big role in keeping the park up and running. The Zoo program is a part of the public school system. It is connected to Hughes STEM High school. It is a 11th and 12th grade program. You can only be in this program if you attend Hughes your 10th grade year first. The Zoo Academy has been at the Cincinnati Zoo since 1975. Being at the Zoo Academy opens so many doors for the students here. We have the chance to help the keepers take care of the animals. We get to know the animals as well as the keepers do. Sometimes if we show the keepers that we are willing to work just as hard as they do to care for the animals they offer us jobs over the summer and after we graduate. Being in this program also opens up opportunities with all kinds of colleges. Not many people know about this program and the things we do in it so when we write and tell them about it, then they become very interested in wanting to know more. The class sizes in this program are very small so you can get that one-on-one time from your teachers you wouldn’t normally get in a large classroom. So if you are an animal lover and want to come to this program then CHOOSE HUGHES!

 

And here's Marvin, the blue-tongued skink

And here’s Marvin, the blue-tongued skink

February 7, 2014   4 Comments