Teens Have a Fun Way to Try On Science Career Hats Being a teenager begins the age of responsibility, including trying to figure out what career paths lay ahead. Parents, guidance counselors, and teachers play a key role in the process, but real world exposure to career options is limited. It is even more limited when a teenager shows interest and potential excellence in the field of life sciences (science involving living things such as plants, animals, or living things in general), but has no outlet to explore what area within the life sciences arena may show the most promise for them.
Fortunately, and thanks to a generous grant from the Cullen Foundation, the Buffalo Zoo is one of the newest tools available to complement traditional career counseling. As a result of the grant, the Zoo has developed an innovative experiential learning program for teenagers (ages 14-18) who show an interest in careers in life science. The Life Science Career Lab program gives teens the chance to try on at least six different life science career hats to see if any of them fit. Excited by this offering, Buffalo Zoo Curator of Education Tiffany Vanderwerf stated that “teens today need every bit of help in defining their potential career path, so we are thrilled that we have the chance to work with this age group to explore their options in this field; a field near and dear to our hearts.” The Zoo’s mission includes educating the public and professionals alike in the topics of threatened and endangered species, habitat conservation, and the overall puzzle of how each component in the environment is directly linked to one another. To this point, Vanderwerf adds “science isn’t just about putting on a lab coat and looking under a microscope. While that can be fun for some, science can also be about getting outdoors to figure out how to save plants and animals from extinction, caring for the health of humans and animals, or managing the use of land resources.” This new and unique program will take a hands-on approach to career exploration. Six weeks in duration and running on Saturday mornings, the program culminates with an event at the Zoo for students to showcase their efforts to family, educators, and friends. Not only that, students will be rewarded for their efforts if completing the program in its entirety, with a $240.00 Visa gift card. For this first go-around of the program, a limited class size will be available and eligibility requirements apply. Additional information, along with the formal application is available on the Zoo’s web site, www.buffalozoo.org. The application deadline is Monday, December 19, 2016.