Saturday, June 17, 2017

Securing a Future For Wildlife

Name: Kyle Turner
Class Year: Class of 2019
Hometown: Pickerington, OH 
Internship: Conservation and Science
Location: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo new logo
Hello, my name is Kyle Turner, I am a third year Zoology and Conservation Science Major at Otterbein University.  This summer I have the opportunity to Intern at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in the Conservation and Science Research department.  I am working under their Curator of Conservation Kym Gopp and their Conservation Engagement Specialist Emily Baber.  I was brought on board to assist them while the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is going through a re-branding.   For this re-branding they are focusing on highlighting their conservation program: Future For Wildlife.  This program has six main conservation efforts: Andean Bears, Asian Turtles, Giraffes, Gorillas, Lions and Cheetahs, and Illegal Wildlife Trade.  I found it quite fascinating how the Cleveland Zoo works with each of these efforts, and I am excited to see how the Future For Wildlife program will bring them to light for a broader audience to see.
            For my time here I am getting to see not only how the zoo runs their conservation programs, but many different aspects of how a zoo functions.  Emily Burland, the other Otterbein Intern in Conservation Education whom I am partnering with, have been fortunate to be able to attend some different sessions for interns around the zoo.  We have attended one that showed us around the show program and we learned the history and evolution of that program up to what it is today.  We also had the pleasure of talking with their director of development, Kim Epley. There we learned about her job and how the Zoo works with both the Cleveland Zoo Society and the Metroparks, a very interesting mixture to see working.  There are still more session to come and I personally cannot wait to attend them. 
Emily and I meeting with Isaac after his lecture
            One great part of working with in the conservation department is that Emily Burland and I have been able to meet with some of the conservation partners.  June 9th we met Isaac Goldstein who is the partner with the Andean Bear Conservation Alliance, June 14th we met Bob Montgomery who is a partner for giraffe conservation and the lion and cheetah conservation efforts, and June 16th we met with Amy Dickman who is the partner of the Ruaha Carnivore Project.  Each one gave a lecture on what they are doing to help support conservation and the connection they had with the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  Each one had a deep connection with the zoo and were very proud to say that Cleveland was their partner. After the lectures I was fortunate to go to a lunch with the partners, and it was great getting to talk to them and hear both amazing stories of their past and then some exciting plans for the future. 
Emily Burland (Left), Amy Dickman (Center), and Me (Right)
            When there are no sessions or talks happening, I am working in the office on a hand full of projects.  Most projects are focused on trying to create ways to facilitate the conservation messaging to the Cleveland Zoo’s audience.  I have created quizzes and come up with different tools of engagement that I hope can create a valuable learning experience for guests.  I have also become an extra brain with Kym and Emily Baber to work on questions that the zoo has to come up with a possible answer. Emily Burland and I have also joined together on some projects put before us.  We are in the process of creating and conducting a few different surveys for the zoo, and we hope to produce valuable finding by the end of the summer.  To help with explaining to the public about the conservation programs, Emily and I have created engagement kits that will help facilitate learning and that can be used for the conservation department any way they want, on or off site. 

            It has been three weeks here, and I am loving everything I am learning.  Everyone is extremely friendly and some I have had great conversations with.  I have learned that sometimes an interaction can open up opportunities to learn and experience new things.  I feel that I have learned a lot already, and I am excited for what the rest of the summer holds. These projects will hopefully uncover useful information and there is one that has caught my attention.  More to that when it comes. Thank you for reading and I hope to have some exciting things to share in my next post.

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