CINCINNATI (September 19, 2017) – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is excited to team up with AmeriCorps, aka the “domestic Peace Corps”, to bring fun, science-based educational opportunities to students in Cincinnati who need it the most and to challenge the community to step up and do more to conserve resources and wildlife.  On Saturday, September 23, more than 115 AmeriCorps members from 11 Cincinnati AmeriCorps programs will gather at the Cincinnati Zoo to take their official pledge of service for the 2017-18 AmeriCorps service year. Fourteen will join the Zoo staff for a full year. Currently, the Zoo employs 13 former AmeriCorps members either part or full time.

Speakers at the event will include Alumni from local AmeriCorps programs and staff from ServeOhio: the state commission on service and volunteerism. They will share the impact made by AmeriCorps on both the individual and the state level. Tamaya Dennard, a public servant who advocates for increasing women’s representation in leadership, will administer the oath of service.                  Together, the Zoo and AmeriCorps will provide quality STEM education to economically-disadvantaged PreK-12 students and engage Zoo visitors and community members in environmentally conscious practices and behaviors. For more than 20 years, thousands of AmeriCorps members have provided direct and capacity-building services in cities.

“Last year the Zoo’s AmeriCorps members provided over 42,500 individuals with environmental education opportunities! The new crew will continue to help the Cincinnati Zoo support community efforts while building their own professional skill set,” said Amanda McGoldrick, Cincinnati Zoo’s AmeriCorps Program Coordinator.  “Through the efforts of AmeriCorps members we have seen countless “AH-HA!” moments when zoo visitors, community members and economically disadvantaged students have discovered how to conserve a resource, answer their own questions through scientific inquiry, build connections with other people and with animals or just simply learned to respect a snake that they didn’t appreciate one minute ago.”

Annual outcomes of this partnership will be:

1)         Bring 11,000 economically disadvantaged students to the Zoo for free and increase the science literacy and academic engagement of 1,690 of these students

2)         Engage 30 teachers in inquiry-based professional development

3)         Provide free STEM extracurricular programs to 10 children in need throughout the entire school year and summer

4)         Deliver environmental messaging to 20,000 Zoo visitors and increase the conservation knowledge and intent to change behavior for 2,500 of these Zoo visitors.

In 2016, AmeriCorps surpassed 1 million men and women to have served over the past 20 years to make our country stronger. Each AmeriCorps volunteer serves for 9 to 24 months, with the majority of members receiving only a living stipend and tuition award to help with higher education costs. In Cincinnati, AmeriCorps members provide services to address our city’s toughest problems by serving at 55 individual service sites, including social services, schools, nonprofits, universities, health facilities, and others.