Free Zoo Program Trains ‘Junior Zookeepers’

WHEELING — Mary Albert, a teen volunteer at the Oglebay Good Zoo, has been awarded a Disney Summer of Service grant through Youth Service America. The grant will support Albert as she partners with the Good Zoo to present a community service project that enables youth to become more engaged with nature.

Albert is one of only 270 young leaders across the United States selected to receive Disney’s Summer of Service grant. Grantees must utilize this funding to organize service-oriented projects that make communities healthier, greener and stronger. Grantees are also called to educate and mobilize their peers through awareness, service, advocacy and philanthropic activities.

In partnership with the Good Zoo, Albert will utilize this grant funding to present a Junior Zookeeper certification program for zoo guests from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. This interactive, educational program is free for children ages 5 and up.

Participants will receive a Junior Zookeeper passport containing various educational activities. Participants will earn passport stamps for completing activities as they work toward the ultimate goal of earning an official Junior Zookeeper certificate and lapel button.

As an added bonus, children who participate in the Junior Zookeeper certification program will receive 15 percent off registration for any 2018 summer zoo camp. This special pricing will only be available this weekend.

Albert, a longtime teen volunteer at the Oglebay Good Zoo, assembled a team of volunteers who designed, developed and presented the Junior Zookeeper Passport concept for grant consideration.

“This event will provide a fun day of exploration throughout the zoo,” Albert said. “We are excited to share our project with the community.”

Albert, a sophomore at Peters Township High School in McMurray, Pa., hopes to apply her love of wildlife to a future career in animal care, rehabilitation and conservation.

The Oglebay Good Zoo is the only institution in West Virginia that is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo provides conservation education programming to more than 13,000 students annually and participates in AZA breeding programs for more than 20 rare or endangered species. The Good Zoo also collaborates with the West Virginia Division of Wildlife to conduct conservation research associated with the rare Eastern Hellbender Salamander and to rehabilitate nearly 50 ill or injured wild eagles, hawks and owls in the Upper Ohio River Valley annually.

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