As an educator, I had always hoped to inspire the next generation to go farther, do more, and make a greater impact in whatever their chosen field. This year, I am thrilled to be taking over the teen programs here at the Zoo so that I can facilitate more experiences like the one had by Erin Regan, the writer of our most recent Teen Blog post.
I met Erin, who is now a member of our part-time seasonal staff, when she was 15 years old. Part of our ZooTeen Program, I remember her as a quiet girl, but always eager to learn and to help out wherever possible. Back in 2009, I was coordinating the Butterfly Beltway program, and Erin and her brother came with me to assist with planting gardens on a few occasions. I have watched Erin grow from a shy girl with a ton of passion for conservation into a confident young woman, who is achieving much success in college in the Wildlife Science program at Paul Smith’s College.
This, I find, is the most fulfilling part of my job. It makes me beyond proud to see these kids grow and blossom in their passion for the environment, their communication skills, their confidence, and their leadership abilities.
My hope in my new role is that I can help more students like Erin discover their strengths, develop their skills as presenters and environmental leaders, and facilitate fun and meaningful experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime.
– Tina Crandall-Gommel, Youth and School Groups Programs Coordinator