CINCINNATI (September 17, 2016) – 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 17, more than 140 AmeriCorps members from eight Cincinnati AmeriCorps programs gathered at the Cincinnati Zoo to take their official pledge of service for the 2016-17 AmeriCorps service year. Fourteen of the volunteers will be with the Zoo for a full year, serving a combined 18,000 hours. Currently, the Zoo employs nine former AmeriCorps members either part or full time.
Together, the Zoo and AmeriCorps will provide quality STEM education to economically-disadvantaged k-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. Vice Mayor David Mann will deliver the oath of service, and staff from Serve Ohio, the Ohio AmeriCorps office, will share the value and impact of these dedicated AmeriCorps members.
“Partnering with AmeriCorps means the Cincinnati Zoo gets to provide more Zoo access and free science programming to students and families who need it the most. We want to get kids pumped up about science and give them a chance to fall in love with wildlife, especially economically disadvantaged students that don’t have many of these opportunities,” said Melinda Voss, Senior Program Manager, Education at Cincinnati Zoo. “With the help of 14 smart and energetic AmeriCorps Members, the Zoo will grow and improve our Living Classroom Education Access Fund and involve more visitors and community members in the important conservation work we do at the Zoo every day.”
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 5 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 will surpass 1 million men and women who 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.
The world famous Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden opened to the public 140 years ago and was rated the #1 attraction locally and one of the top zoos in the nation by Zagat Survey. It has also been recognized by Child Magazine as one of “The 10 Best Zoos for Kids.” Over 1.5 million people visit the Zoo’s award-winning exhibits, and more than 500 animal and 3000 plant species annually. The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the American Public Gardens Association (APGA), is internationally known for its success in the protection and propagation of endangered animals and plants, and engages in research and conservation projects worldwide.
AmeriCorps in Ohio is administered by ServeOhio, Ohio’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism. ServeOhio supports 24 AmeriCorps programs with over 800 members serving at 482 service locations across the state. In the 2017 program year, Ohio AmeriCorps members will serve over 1.1 million hours and qualify for $3.9 million in education awards. For more information about AmeriCorps in Ohio, visit www.serveohio.org.