AmeriCorps Week 2020: A Look into Serving at the Zoo

Posted March 10, 2020 by Abbi Atkinson

This year, we are celebrating AmeriCorps week from March 8th-14th. This week is dedicated to celebrating the AmeriCorps service of former and current service members across the nation! During this week we reflect on our service thus far as well as spread the word about the great impact we have had in our communities.

But, what is AmeriCorps?  AmeriCorps is a national community service organization with over 21,000 service sites in different nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith based groups all across America. Members commit their time to address critical community needs in the areas where their service site is located. These needs can include academics, youth mentorship, poverty, environmental sustainability, preparation for disasters or disaster relief, and much more. AmeriCorps is sometimes looked at as a domestic Peace Corps. You can learn more about AmeriCorps on their website. You can also search Instagram and Twitter with #MadeInAmeriCorps.

What does AmeriCorps have to do with the Zoo, you ask? The Zoo has an AmeriCorps program that I have been serving with for the past year and a half! I am one of 12 service members that helps to bring STEM education to economically disadvantaged students in the communities surrounding the Zoo. Service positions at the Zoo include creating lesson plans, teaching camps or overnight programs, bringing Zoo programs to schools, organizing school field trips, and more at no cost to them!

But we can’t do this alone! The Living Classroom Education Access Fund (LCEAF) launched in 2012 to help provide these free programs. Through this grant, we have been able to serve over 80,000 students! It is an understatement that this program is doing a fantastic job at reaching this community. 

I first started at the Zoo in 2018 as an intern. I didn’t know what AmeriCorps was or that I would be giving the next two years of my life to service. This program has helped blend my passion for animals, education, and serving perfectly. I have gained skills that will lead me into the rest of my career and memories that will last a lifetime. I know that my service reaches far past personal benefits. In my time at the Zoo, I’ve reached over 2,100 students with wildlife. Every year the Zoo’s AmeriCorps program serves tens of thousands of individuals with learning opportunities. I am confident that myself and my fellow service members will continue to serve this community with programs that will make lasting impacts. 

Want to serve at the Cincinnati Zoo? Applications will be up on the website in early spring. Keep up with our Job Opportunities page for your opportunity to Get Things Done for AmeriCorps!