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Career and Technical Education
CTE Events
Wed, 3/28/2018, 1:00AM - 12:59AM
Thu, 3/29/2018, 1:00AM - 12:59AM
Thu, 3/29/2018, 1:00AM - 12:59AM
Mon, 4/9/2018, 1:00AM - 12:59AM
Mon, 4/9/2018, 1:00AM - 12:59AM
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Zoo Program Roars to Life
Instructor with OwlFew people have a view of bison roaming right outside of their window, but Erie 1 BOCES Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructor Leigh Ziemczonek and her class are happy to be exceptions. That view is just one of the many benefits this high school class enjoys thanks to meeting in a classroom at the Buffalo Zoo.

The Zoo Wildlife and Conservation Careers course is the newest component of the CTE New Visions program, an honors-based program for high school seniors that also has offerings in business management and marketing, health-related careers and legal-related careers.
Created in close collaboration with Zoo officials, the 16 students accepted to the program from high schools across Western New York faced a demanding application process, including an essay and personal interview, to ensure they were suited for the rigors of the program.

“We had to make sure students were very interested in this and it wasn’t just ‘Oh, I kind of like animals,’” said instructor Leigh Ziemczonek. “We wanted students who were going to focus on this as their career and what they want to do in college, and also to make sure they had the level of maturity, because we go out on the Zoo grounds every single day.”

Tiffany Vanderwerf, Buffalo Zoo curator of education, said the partnership falls right in line with the Zoo’s primary mission of education.

“It gives us a chance to provide educational and career connections for motivated, interested teens,” she noted. “The Zoo is truly a place for more than just families with young children.  It is a place where animal career-minded young adults can become more passionate about conservation and can explore animal-related information and careers.”

Areas explored during this honors-level class include biology, animal sciences and conservation, as well as more traditional fields of study such as veterinary science.

Being on the Zoo grounds gives students a unique 23-acre classroom in which to gain first-hand knowledge, as well as classroom visits by Zoo experts. Ziemczonek said she’s only aware of two similar programs in the United States. She added that being able to work directly with Zoo employees could eventually give the students a leg up as they pursue college and professional opportunities.

“This gives the students a great opportunity,” she said. “From talking to so many keepers, a lot of it is getting your foot in the door. Even though we can’t interact with the Zoo animals, they’re making connections and they’re really able to determine whether this is something they want to do, because they’re seeing the hard work behind it all.”

College-bound, honors-level, high school juniors may attend Erie 1 BOCES New Visions Information Night on Wed., Jan. 25 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Harkness Career & Technical Center, 99 Aero Drive, Cheektowaga.

The session will explain the 2017 application process and highlight how the New Visions program can help a college application stand out from the rest by participating in this in-depth, yearlong internship program while still in high school.

The Erie 1 BOCES New Visions opportunities connect highly qualified high school seniors with mentoring professionals in the workplace and college/university institutions. These competitive, off-site programs integrate English and social studies credits needed for graduation and take place at locations such as Canisius College, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo General Hospital and The Buffalo Zoo.

More information is available via, by calling (716) 821-7035, or by speaking with your school counselor.

About Erie 1 BOCES CTE
As part of public education, Erie 1 BOCES offers a variety of career and technical programs during the regular school day to high school students in Erie County. High school students interested in learning more about how they can participate in various programs such as fashion design, web and gaming technologies, health careers or aviation technology, should visit or speak with their high school counselor.
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