Philadelphia Zoo Crew Visits Cheyney University

June 24, 2013

President Vital welcomes students from the Philadelphia Zoo CREW program on their tour of area colleges.

Photo by Jasmine Carter

President Vital welcomes students from the Philadelphia Zoo CREW program on their tour of area colleges. Photo by Jasmine Carter

Junior and senior students from area high schools spent the morning with Dr. Steven Hughes, Associate Professor/Director of Aquaculture, as part of the Philadelphia Zoo CREW program on June 24.  While on campus on the sultry June morning, they saw the wet side of Cheyney during a visit to the Aquaponic facility where Herban Farms grows basil in pools inhabited by talapia.  A brief walk around the Quad led them to the "wet lab" in Logan Hall where walls of fish tanks host a water quality research project. As a Cheyney student assistant led them around, he noted - "this room is a marine biologists dream-come-true."

Escorts Kristen Lewis-Waldron, Philadelphia Zoo Director of Education, and Allison Carpenter-Winas, the Zoo CREW organizer, explained, "We have partnerships with several area schools, including W. Saul School, Franklin Learning Center, The Academy of Parks in Sharon Hill, The Engineering and Science School, and Ridley High School. Other partner schools for this program include Boys Latin Charter, Camden's Eco High School and Stem High School.  These are outstanding students, and like-minded in their interest. When you're studying, you need to learn about the details - they pay close attention to these things."

The high-achieving students were second- and third-year participants in the program which is supported in part by the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation which has committed $1million over the next 10 years to support their education. The 3-year program has 36-38 student participants and the outing was part of the educational strategy to expose the students to colleges so they can begin to plan for their future after completing the program in high school. Cheyney University is a partner in the program and will provide scholarships to some graduates who complete the program,

The program, Zoo Champions for Restoring Endangered Wildlife (Zoo CREW), formerly the Junior Zoo Apprentice Program (JZAP), is a three-year immersion hands-on program that inspires and guides teens, primarily from lower-income households, in conservation action. Through the program, teens will create and complete a multi-layered project to engage and encourage others in making a direct positive impact on an endangered animal species.

Throughout the three-year program, participants learn about animal handling, husbandry, and presentation skills, participate in workshops,training in wildlife and environmental issues, and off-site excursions to help protect animals and habitats. Other activities include a conservation action project that engages others to help an endangered animal species and “Save our Species” community outreach presentations to both educate and inspire conservation action in and around the community. The program also offers one-on-one college counseling sessions, science and conservation career development events and an opportunity to apply for paid stipend conservation work at the Philadelphia Zoo.