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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

An Experience like No Other: the Zoo Academy Story

Guest Blogger: Zoo Academy Senior, Sarah Franklin

To start off, my name is Sarah Franklin.  I’m a Zoo Academy student here at the Cincinnati Zoo, and I love every minute of it. The Zoo Academy is a branch of Hughes STEM High School, and is offered to anyone who attends.

Here’s a bit of my story on how I ended up here:

I was raised on a farm, not too far from Cincinnati, but in a small town that you’ve probably never heard of before. Growing up, my family and I had an array of animals on our farm. I used to love to go out with my father in the mornings or evenings to feed the animals. Any opportunity I had to go out with him, I’d jump right into my muck boots, (that came higher than my knees), throw on my coat or jacket, depending on the temperature, and run out right behind him. Some of my favorite memories from my hometown were right out on that farm with him.

Here I am as a toddler on my Dad's farm.

Here I am as a toddler on my Dad’s farm.

At about the age of fourteen when my dad got remarried, I had the opportunity to move to Cincinnati and change schools. I wasn’t particularly happy with my current school system, so I began to research about public schools in Cincinnati. During one of my searches, I came across Hughes High. They talked a lot about pathways on their website, and featured a pathway they called: (you guessed it) The Zoo Academy! I called up the next day to learn more about it, and actually spent time talking to Glen Schulte, who is now my current teacher. I fell in love the minute I learned about this amazing opportunity, and decided that this was where I wanted to start my new beginning. We packed up and moved soon after and that began my story here, at my favorite place on Earth.

In my Zoo Academy uniform

In my Zoo Academy uniform

The Cincinnati Zoo and Hughes High School have become second homes for me. I have had experiences here that I could experience nowhere else.  I became a strong leader within my school, and the biggest Big Red Athletics fan they’d ever seen. Actually, this year, (my SENIOR year), I was recorded as the first girl in Big Red history to score points for the Hughes Football team. I even did a radio interview about it. That was an experience within itself, and I am so fortunate to have been a part of that.

Here I am in my football gear with my littlest fan.

Here I am in my football gear with my littlest fan.

Here at the Zoo, I do daily work with the keepers, animals, and currently the wonderful staff within the Education Department. Some of my favorite animal encounters have been during these last two years, having the opportunity to work with animals that range from insects to elephants. One of my favorite experiences was working with the cougars this past fall while in the Night Hunters department at the Zoo. I also met the love of my life here at the Zoo, a hyacinth blue macaw named Azul at the Bird House. I’ve enjoyed every lab I’ve participated in, and learned so much from the staff here. It is really an experience that is like no other, because the Cincinnati Zoo is the only zoo in the country that allows high school students to participate in labs and work alongside keepers on a daily basis.

Here I am with the love of my life, Azul.

Here I am with the love of my life, Azul.

In the upcoming future I plan on attending the University of Cincinnati and continuing on my story here at the Cincinnati Zoo. I feel as though my experiences here at the Zoo aren’t ready to come to an end yet, so I hope I am able to continue on here after I graduate, whether it is as a volunteer or even a paid staff member. I love it here at the Zoo, and though this may not be where my career path ends, it is definitely a place that I would hope for it to begin. Thanks so much for reading my story!  If you ever see me around the Zoo, stop me and ask any questions you’d like!

Best Wishes, Sarah.

November 20, 2013   11 Comments