I’ve been lucky enough recently to cover for Tim Fowler, our Off-Site Educator Coordinator, while he is out on paternity leave. Now, how did I get this chance?
Late last winter, I noticed the Zoo had posted on its Web site the opportunity for part-time positions in the Education Department. The major requirements were to have an interest in animals, conservation, public speaking/customer service skills and working with children. I graduated in May 2011 from the University of Delaware with a degree in Wildlife Conservation; zoos and aquariums have always been some of my favorite places especially as a kid. So the chance to use my degree and be able to help kids experience and enjoy the Zoo like I did when I was young seemed like a no-brainer!
As an educator at the Zoo, I’ve worked birthday parties, sleepovers, ZooMobiles and been trained to handle the animals in the Zoo’s Education Collection. Doing all the programs has been a blast – you get to see such a wide variety of people, from preschoolers to senior citizens, and no matter who it is, you can tell it’s the highlight of their day! Not everyone gets to see, no less touch, a cockroach or a snake in their everyday lives, and believe it or not, those are some of my favorite animals to bring on programs.
Now when I first started animal handling, I felt the same way most of you probably do. Snakes and cockroaches made me a little bit nervous, but the chinchillas and rabbits, no problem. The tides have turned and I’ve found out handling a snake comes a lot easier than a 13-lb rabbit or even an adorable chinchilla.
I couldn’t be happier with my time here at the Seneca Park Zoo. Doing all the programs has been a rewarding experience, especially when a whole class of students sends you personalized thank-you notes for coming to their school. I have also enjoyed being able to continue my education and learn about all the different animals here at our Zoo and how this place plays an important role in conservation and education in the community.
If you are interested in becoming a Zoo educator and getting to have all the fun that I do, check out our Web site under “Zoo careers” because there is currently a listing for more educators!
– Mimi Wesson-Roth, Zoo Educator