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Programs for Youth
Many people know that the Audubon Zoo is a great place to see beautiful animals and surroundings, but what you might not know is that it is also the site for some amazing youth development opportunities. The Audubon Zoo currently offers two youth development and leadership programs: the Junior Keeper program- which has been offered here at the Audubon Zoo for over 20 years and ECCO (Education, Conservation and Community Opportunities) a new afterschool program. These programs give kids the opportunity to learn about career possibilities, bond with peers, learn about wildlife and conservation and learn basic job skills while hanging out in a beautiful environment.
This past weekend zoo education staff took 45 youth from the Junior Keeper program and ECCO to visit Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. These kids had the opportunity to ask questions of current veterinarians and vet students while touring the facility. One of many highlights for everyone was meeting Nick Cross, a 3rd year veterinary student who also serves as one of two caregivers for LSU’s mascot-Mike the tiger. A behind-the-scenes tour turned out some great photos from the group and more than one of the participants came back to New Orleans with the goal of attending vet school.
This field trip gave all the kids an opportunity to see what college campus life is like and the career opportunities available to them, bit it gave them a whole lot more than that. It gave them a chance to be with mentors that care about their future. It gave them a chance to hang with other like-minded youth from different schools and neighborhoods. It gave them a glimpse at a future where they can make a difference and that is where I get really excited. Our mission at the Audubon Nature Institute is to get people to discover the wonders of nature, care about nature and if we are really successful; get them to make a difference. These youth are the future stewards of our environment and I am very positive that this group is pointed in the right direction.
We are now accepting applications for the 2011 Junior Keepers and the school year 2011-2012 ECCO group.