Summer is here (despite what the forecast says)!

Photo by Walter Brooks

Photo by Walter Brooks

With summer comes a lot of exciting things here at the Zoo. Our Summer Programs are already underway, and just around the corner is the start of our ZooTeen Program. A lot of behind-the-scenes preparations are being done now to make sure that this program runs smoothly. We’re also planning a lot of new exciting things for this teens-only program.

This week I have been working on the schedule for the teens. This is no easy task, with 89 teens participating this year! Our veteran ZooTeens will be acting as mentors to our first-year ZooTeens, offering training and guidance as they learn the ropes. We also have ten teens that participated in our E.C.C.O. Leadership Program that have decided to stay with us for the summer as ZooTeens. In addition to making sure that all of our new teens are paired up with a veteran, we are also scheduling our teens for some special projects.

Some of the new things teens will be working on this year include: assisting with our ZooCamp Program by creating field day activities; mentoring our ZooTeens in Training Camp; shadowing our counselors to learn about the career of an educator; assisting our docents with preparation for their fundraiser event Party Madagascar; creating and maintaining a newsletter that will go out to all ZooTeens, their parents, docents, and Zoo staff; writing blogs for our Web site; and participating in a citizen science project called FrogWatch USA.

Teens will begin their FrogWatch training next Saturday. This includes learning how to recognize a variety of wetland habitats, research skills, and learning the different calls of the various native species of frogs and toads in western New York. Once certified, teens will register a wetland site near their home and begin collecting data on the calls they hear for the remainder of the summer. This data will be shared with FrogWatch USA, a national project which compiles data from all across the country to monitor amphibian populations, in turn testing the health of our wetland habitats. Teens who are interested in animal-related careers will gain valuable experience by participating in this project.

I am very much looking forward to working with each of these dedicated teens this summer. It is my hope that we will inspire the next Jane Goodall or Diane Fossey right here at Seneca Park Zoo!

– Tina Crandall-Gommel, Youth and School Group Programs Coordinator

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