Zookeeping Interpreter

Expected Dates
January 22, 2018 to November 16, 2018
Site
Bear Mountain State Park, NYS OPRHP
Position ID
PO-00724399
SCA Hudson Valley AmeriCorps partners with State and non-profit agencies to address the conservation needs of the Hudson River Watershed region. Corps members are placed at individual host sites, where service activities range from providing environmental education to underserved youth, to restoring streambanks along the Hudson River, and beyond. Members join together regularly for trainings, service projects, or other events. 
 
Purpose of the Program: This position spans both our education and zookeeping programs. The Trailside Education Program seeks to bring visitors into meaningful contact with the plants, animals, geology, and history of the Hudson Highlands, specifically what can be found along the trails of Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks. It is our goal to foster in all visitors a greater understanding, appreciation, and respect for the natural world. We achieve this goal through informal education for individuals and families; guided tours for schools and other groups; special events open to the public; a summer day program for children entering grades 1-6; and amphitheater programs in spring, summer and fall. The Trailside Zookeeping Program, which is integral to education and the visitor experience, provides husbandry for our local injured and non-releasable wildlife housed along Trailside’s nature trail, as well as live fish, reptiles, and amphibians (many but not all non-releasable) in one of the museums. The zookeeping program feeds, maintains, and cares for the live animal collection. Given that many animals have permanent injuries, this care includes careful observation and monitoring of animal health. It is a shared goal of the zookeeping and education programs for the live animals at Trailside to serve as ambassadors for their kind in our effort to educate our visitors about the natural world and our role as responsible stewards.
 
Community Needs that the Program Serves: Bear Mountain State Park receives over a million visitors annually and roughly one in ten of these visitors, or 100,000, explore Trailside’s nature trail, animal exhibits, and museums. As an affordable destination within an hour’s drive of the New York metro region, Trailside serves a diverse audience, including many patrons from underserved communities. The facility is designed for a self-directed experience. Visitors are guided by directional signage through a sequence of exhibits, displays, and museums. However, this experience is greatly enhanced through direct engagement of the public by trained staff. These personal interactions and the ensuing exchange of information, add tremendously to the Trailside experience. This type of interactive education resonates especially well when paired with staff conducting active animal care or demonstrations. Working with the zookeeping and education staff, the Zookeeping Interpreter is needed to expand our capacity for direct interactions with our diverse audience, to more fully realize our educational goals.
 
AmeriCorps Member Duties and Responsibilities: The live animal exhibits at Trailside provide a valuable tool for engaging the public about local wildlife and nature in State Parks. The importance of the animals to Trailside patrons was made clear in visitor surveys conducted in 2012, during which they cited the animals as the most memorable part of their visit. Many also expressed a longing to know more about the animals.  
The Zookeeping Interpreter position is designed to address this need. Through our orientation and training, the Zookeeping Interpreter will learn important tools and skills for both zookeeping and environmental interpretation. The ZI will work with the Zookeepers, Educator, and other staff to enhance the interpretive experience for patrons of Trailside. The Zookeeping Interpreter will directly interact with the public thru small impromptu “teaching moments” at the exhibits and more formal live animal presentations at the Trailside Amphitheater. The position will provide hands-on experience in animal care and husbandry combined with ongoing training in education and interpretation. The Zookeeping Interpreter will also assist Trailside staff and other interns with ongoing volunteer projects, including restoration of the Trailside grounds to a native plant community and general upkeep of the facilities.
 
How the AmeriCorps Member’s Role Aligns with the Organization: The AmeriCorps Member will be an integral member of the Trailside Education and Zookeeping Program, allowing for expanded animal care and live animal education programs and to reach larger audiences and provide additional programming that would otherwise be impossible.
 
Performance Goals for the AmeriCorps Member:
Goal 1: Provide interpretation for the thousands of students that visit in spring and fall.
 
Goal 2: Become proficient in handling education animals for programs.
 
Goal 3: Develop lesson plans for summer day program and special events.
 
Candidate Requirements:
Must be 18 or older. Must have a valid driver’s license. Must have own vehicle.
Must be able to pass a background check.
 
Comfort and enjoyment interacting with people of all ages, especially children. Must be comfortable working with animals. Prior experience at a zoo, animal hospital, or similar facility is desired, though not a pre-requisite. Must be detail oriented, self-motivated, dependable, and have excellent communication skills.
 
General knowledge of local flora and fauna is desired.
 
Benefits:
  • All Hudson Valley Corps members receive a taxable $200/week living allowance and EITHER housing provided OR a taxable $600/month housing allowance for positions north of NYC metro area OR $800/month housing allowance for positions in NYC metro area.
  • Upon successful completion of the term, members receive a taxable Segal Education Award through AmeriCorps.
  • Student loan forbearance and interest repayments for federal student loan through AmeriCorps.
  • Eligible for free health insurance
  • Eligible for childcare assistance through AmeriCorps

Training Opportunities:
All Hudson Valley Corps members receive Wilderness First Aid, CPR, Hudson River Citizen Science curricula, Trail Skills, Project WET, Project WILD and Project Learning Tree curricula, and professional development. Optional trainings include Leave No Trace, American Canoe Association Level 1, and other opportunities that arise. 

 

  • No
Main Area of Focus
Visitor Services and Site Operations
Education, Training & Skills Expected
Biology
some coursework or experience
Education
some coursework or experience
History
some coursework or experience
Working with Animals
some experience
Public Speaking
some experience
Working with Children
some experience