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In The Eyes Of Another: Zoo Academy

Guest blogger: Monneka Johnson, Zoo Academy Senior

My name is Monneka and I am a student at the Zoo Academy. It’s my second year in the program and I had an amazing junior year. I plan to have a successful finish! As a senior, I am not only an example, but I consider myself a leader for the juniors.

Zoo Academy students in the classroom

Zoo Academy students in the classroom

Being a Zoo Academy student, my day isn’t just any old crazy day of doing English, math, science, or social studies. The Zoo Academy allows me to explore beyond the average high school day; it’s an ongoing adventure. I have passed several milestones to accomplishing challenges such as handling animals that I’ve never encountered, which gave me a fright at first, but in all, I achieved a personal growth goal. I have had the opportunity to handle multiple species of animals such as the blue-tongued skinks, Brazilian rainbow boas, and armadillos!

Showing one of my classmates a blue-tongued skink

Showing one of my classmates a blue-tongued skink

The blue-tongued skink, up close

The blue-tongued skink, up close

Meet the screaming hairy armadillo

Meet the screaming hairy armadillo

Here's a Brazilian rainbow boa

Here’s a Brazilian rainbow boa

We learn how to interact with visitors here at the Zoo, as well as with the staff; between the staff and my peers we’ve become a camaraderie. A “camaraderie” is a trust among friends. We engage what we know, want to know, and how we relate to one another and this is how we build a camaraderie. We show that we take pride in contributing to the Cincinnati Zoo mission statement every day by putting on our uniforms and making sure our tasks get done efficiently and safe.

Some of my classmates meeting a macaw at the Bird House

Some of my classmates meeting a macaw at the Bird House

Hanging out with one of the primate keepers, Eric High

Hanging out with one of the primate keepers, Eric High

The Zoo is so engaging. There are no dull moments. We as a team enjoy the character in everyone’s attitude everyday. You’ll almost never be disappointed with an answer; our staff makes the days here at the Cincinnati Zoo interesting from all the informational facts. As a student at the Zoo, being able to learn as you work as well as interact with visitors is an awesome learning experience.

November 5, 2014   No Comments

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