Cory Christopher, 35, works as the Graduate Program Manager at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. He has worked there for seven years after receiving a Ph.D in biology.
I originally intended on being a professor at a university. I was doing research, and I just missed working with people. I wanted to talk to people who didn’t have experience with conservation so that I could teach people something about conservation.
I work with educators who want to get master’s degrees – basically teaching teachers about conservation and about the scientific method and about zoology. I teach the classes at the zoo and serve as adviser for all master’s projects. They (students) take some online classes, and then they take some classes at the zoo.
All the graduate stuff I do is inquiry-based – basically helping teachers figure out how to teach their students without just giving them lectures and preaching to them.
I also manage a teen program in children’s zoo. It’s called TRIBE – Teen Recruits Inspiring By Example. We bring about 75 teens into the children’s zoo, and we sort of base it off of a real-life job situation, where they start at one level, and they have to get promoted to do “bigger and better” things. It’s a tiered program where we’re trying to instill leadership skills in the teens. Once they start showing us those leadership skills, like initiative and dependability and being able to work independently, they get promoted to the next level. So it’s just like a real-work environment.
My favorite part of the job? When I go into the zoo and I talk to little kids about an animal, an owl or a snake. They just sort of light up and get excited about it.
Anything in front of a computer is my least favorite part. Probably grading the work in the online courses that I teach. Anything that’s in front of a computer.
Going behind-the-scenes at the elephant house and getting to feed the elephants. That might’ve been the coolest thing I’ve done.
It (the job) was sort of the perfect combination of everything I wanted to do. I get to play with animals and teach. You know, you can’t beat it.
– By Grace Biehl; photo provided by Cincinnati Zoo
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