I started coming to the Lincoln Park Zoo as a child and I never stopped! As a mother of three, I brought my daughters here on a regular basis and I am happy to say they love the zoo too! A zoo volunteer, I jumped at the chance to join the Learning Department as a Early Childhood Facilitator. I enjoy interacting with all zoo guests, but I especially love encouraging curiosity and enthusiasm in our youngest visitors. I really enjoy connecting toddlers and parents to nature though the immersive and sensory-rich play activities at LEAP.
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed being outdoors. I grew up visiting Giant City State Park in Southern Illinois, squeezing through caverns and collecting leaves. I will always remember the sense of peace and awe I felt there. I am excited to bring that same peace and awe to Lincoln Park Zoo’s visitors. I've been a lucky member of Lincoln Park Zoo's staff since 2013. In past years, I’ve led Conservation Camp and helped with curriculum development. Now, I’m focused on showing our littlest visitors why Lincoln Park Zoo is so amazing. The LEAP program invites children to explore and connect with nature – right here in the middle of the city!
Growing up in the middle of the city my backyard was my nature play space! I could dig with my hands or follow the ant trails to my heart’s content. My love of wildlife grew in Mexico, where as a kid, I explored mysterious mountains and dry deserts. This led me to the study of ecology at Loyola University Chicago and eventually to Lincoln Park Zoo! As a previous Camp Counselor, I was able to see children’s faces light up in awe as they learned about nature and wildlife. This is why I am so excited to continue working with children at LEAP by helping them interact and play with nature!
I have been visiting Lincoln Park Zoo since I was a child. A long, long time ago, I loved going to the Children’s zoo to watch the Chimpanzee tea party or see the babies in the nursery being cared for by the keepers, but away from their mothers. I always wanted to help at the zoo too, but life got in the way. I went to college, I became a school social worker, had 2 daughters and 3 grandsons. and spent many decades working with and advocating on behalf of children. Eventually,16 years ago, life slowed down and I started volunteering at the main zoo and later at the farm. It was remarkable to see how some urban kids had no idea that Cows could make milk by eating hay and that eggs were from chickens. I was thrilled when I learned that there were openings in The LEAP program which takes advantage of children’s natural instinct to play as they learn. It is so much fun to provide unique opportunities for kids here at the zoo to explore and learn in a natural setting while interacting with the animals and the environment. There are no more tea parties with Chimps at the zoo, but when children come to the LEAP program, they can learn about the chimps and gorillas in the Regenstein Center for African Apes where they can explore about what chimps play and what gorillas eat. Or, kids can use our props and pretend they are apes. I am so thrilled to be a part of this process.
Going to Lincoln Park Zoo has been one of my favorite things to do since moving to Chicago two years ago. Up until then I lived in Florida, where I had quick access to beaches and nature preserves. Living in the city for the first time, I find solace in the welcoming green spaces here at the zoo. I’m lucky enough to live close by, so I go as often as I can. I love seeing how the animals respond to the different times of day and to the different seasons! Needless to say I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to start working with the Learning Department at Lincoln Park Zoo the summer of 2018. I’ve been amazed at the incredible work by each of the teams in this department, and the impact we get to have on every person we interact with. I feel so lucky now to be able to work in LEAP where I can help families find the same peace here that I do!
My journey with Lincoln Park Zoo began three summers ago as a conservation camp instructor. I have always had a passion for conservation and education and working at the zoo perfectly combines the two. I recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelors in Animal Sciences and plan on returning for my masters next year. The environment at Lincoln Park Zoo has always been very warm and inviting— bringing guests from all around together to join in nature play in the big city. I’m very excited to begin in the LEAP Program and get to know all the curious minds that make my job so much more fun!
As a transplant from out of state, I have always looked at the Lincoln Park Zoo as my special pocket of nature within the city. I grew up visiting and eventually working at the Saint Louis Zoo in Saint Louis, MO, and so I have a great love for all zoos! I was previously a Saint Louis Zoo Preschool teacher, where I connected my students not just with the zoo, but with the animals and plants that live all around us in the city. My favorite moments were helping to facilitate the “wonder moments” while following a child’s natural curiosity. This past summer, I was fortunate to work at the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Conservation Camp and I am so excited to be joining the LEAP program this fall, where I can continue to help our littlest explorers experience their own wonder moments!