Zoo Animal Presenters Serve in Community
DLSNC students "Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve." The Oregon Zoo's Zoo Animal Presenters (ZAPs) are teenagers who head into the community to teach and serve, so the program is a good fit for our students. Per the Zoo's website, "ZAPs work with live animals to give presentations at community centers, teach outdoor recreation skills to Urban Nature Overnight campers, and form conservation teams that do field and lab work with native plants and animals."
Gigi Karimu '19 participated in the program for three years and was very vocal about what a great experience it was. Senior Pablo Benitez is now in his third year of the program. New to the program this year are sophomore Jada Monk and junior Yemane Berhane. They began training this past spring.
The ZAP program is very prestigious and highly selective. Students submit a detailed application and go through a rigorous series of interviews, both over the phone and in-person. One nice perk of the program is that students receive payment for their work at the zoo.
-- Amy Lacks
Science Department Chair
ZAP Reflection by Jada Monk '23
I heard about the ZAP program from two staff members during my freshman year. I was immediately interested because I love animals and the Oregon Zoo has always been one of my favorite places to go to. I started my application process and went in for a series of interviews with other teenagers. We had two group interviews then the final one-on-one interview, and a week later I got a call telling me that I'd just became a first-year ZAP member. I was so happy I called and texted all my friends.
Sadly, due to COVID-19, we couldn’t meet in person at the zoo for our first trainings. But when the zoo reopened, we were able to come in small groups for short trainings and to draw chalk drawings with directions and welcome messages for zoo visitors.
I love being a ZAP member, learning about, and eventually presenting animals. The wonderfully accepting and diverse community also feels great. This job gives me a way to save up money for my future and gives me more experience with people and animals. I’m so glad I was accepted into such a fun and educational program!