Beardsley Zoo’s CDC program taking applications


Thomas Altieri

Students tagging horseshoe crabs for study at Long Beach in Stamford.

Mason Hanbury, Contributing Writer

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is  taking applications for its very own Conservation Discovery Corp Program (CDC). Applications are being accepted through Jan. 22 with training starting in April.

Thomas Altieri, a CDC staff member, says the Conservation Discovery Corp program at the Beardsley Zoo is an hardworking, intense programs open to all highschool students. Along with teaching adults and children visiting the zoo’s grounds, conservation programs (Species breeding, survival plans, and animal rehabilitation), students in the CDC engage in numerous conservation fieldwork and activities all over the state of Connecticut. Past CDC students have participated in species surveys’ at wildlife management areas, removed species/plants interfering with the natural habitats, conducted education initiatives/speeches for adults and kids about genetic diversity, the importance of pollution and habitats, as well as assisting the zoo in other ways. The program entails training classes, every Saturday in February and March, in order to teach students about the zoo’s animal collection, conservation work, as well as conducting off-grounds field work (under supervision of the zoo).

The CDC has gotten a lot of recognition through its programs and Altieri says, “The CDC program won the 2015 Association of Zoos and Aquariums for excellent education program.”

Activities as a volunteer with the CDC includes educating the public about the zoo’s animals as well as the conservation and ecology work that all zoos participate in. CDC members will also conduct fieldwork all over Connecticut, including bird banding, species surveys, invasive species removal and more. Altieri also states the importance of the lessons learned as a CDC member.

He says that students will learn public speaking and customer relation skills, the logistics of running a zoo and conservation, students also learn how to not only speak to the public but educate the public in zoo’s, aquariums, etc. These skills are practically vital to students pursuing a career in wildlife, veterinarian studies, as well as college training programs. 

Ariel Jones and Mariah Rivera, both former and current employees of the CDC as well as the Beardsley Zoo, both agree that the conservation program is thrilling and exciting. Mariah says that participating while also a student in high school has given her so many skills that she uses in the conservation field as a young professional. Ariel says that this program is very useful and, “is a way to get your foot in the door for future jobs.”