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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Zoo camp delivers wildlife education

Imagine a daily stroll in a park alongside endangered orangutans and tigers in their natural habitat. While teens often dread their summer break, an experience at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo summer camp provides an opportunity to learn about the earth?s exotic wildlife.

Zoo camp runs for a ten-week period from June to August. As a student camper, I have attended this program since I was 5 years old and have volunteered since my 13th birthday.

Adrienne Castro, Chaffee Zoo education director, believes this program provides future generations knowledge to better understand the world?s animals.

?Students who attend zoo camp as a camper or volunteer can expect a productive summer vacation filled with information about the most beautiful creatures around the world,? Castro said.

High school students between the ages of 13-17 are encouraged to volunteer their summer time at the zoo located in Fresno’s Roeding Park. During the ten weeks volunteers sign up to donate their time week-by-week according to a specific schedule.

As a junior counselor, responsibilities include playtime, supervision and an older role model for children. Anyone 18 and older can apply for an educator position as a camp counselor.

While I worked as a junior counselor my main goal was to serve as a positive influence among the campers. One year I overheard a conversation between two campers that always followed me around. One of the boys said he wanted to emulate me and even bought a pair of shoes similar to mine. Small instances such as that ensured my return to zoo camp.

Tyler Laird, ’14, attended the Fresno Chaffee Zoo?s summer camp throughout his elementary years.

?I?m happy I went to zoo camp for so many years because I learned a lot about my favorite animals while having a ton of fun at the same time,? Laird said.

At zoo camp, children from ages 3-12 attend a themed week-long education program. Throughout the day students rotate around four different classes.

In the theme class, they learn about the specific topic of the week such as ocean animals, things with wings and even explore the different continents. In the arts and crafts classroom campers create replicas of their favorite animals. Campers examine the anatomy of creatures from all over the world in the bio-facts class.

At the end of every week, the kids perform a skit or a song to their parents they learn from a theater arts class. Aside from in-class education, students also explore the zoo and experience behind-the-scenes encounters during the week.

Senior Daniel Edwards attended the zoo ten years ago.

?I haven?t gone in so long because it?s too far and it smells bad,” Edwards said. “Maybe if they created new exhibits I?d be more interested.?

In 2004, Fresno planned Measure Z to fund the Chaffee Zoo with a total of $120 million additional dollars over ten years through 2014. Forty million dollars of Measure Z funding is promised by sales tax collected all over Fresno County to improve and expand our zoo?s exhibits.

The Fresno Bee reports that more than 20 animal habitats have been added or improved. The zoo now displays 620 animals representing more than 200 species.

With constant habitat destruction and human pollution, the earth?s plant and animal species struggle with a decline in population. At the local zoo, educators teach the public positive techniques to help in an effort to protect wildlife. Stingray Bay (open only on weekends after Sept. 14), Winged Wonder?s Bird Show and the Giraffe Feeding Station give guests an encounter with the animals to appreciate Fresno?s zoo along with the rest of the planet?s creatures.

Because of my thirteen years of attendance at the summer programs I am well equipped for my new job as an educator. The volunteer position at the zoo taught me hard work and perseverance which I intend to use in my future work experiences.

The zoo also provides camp programs during winter and spring breaks along with summer.

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