High school students looking to find a job have the opportunity to get an “edge” on the rest through a new program at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The zoo and two other properties managed by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium — the Zoombezi Bay waterpark and The Wilds, a conservation center in Cumberland — have announced the launch of the Edge Program that allows students to gain an edge in their academics and future careers.
In partnership with the Ohio Department of Education and supported by the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, led by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Edge Program serves as a part of the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal, which recognizes high school students by showing that they are prepared to contribute to the workplace and their communities. Through the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal, students can earn this formal designation on their high school diplomas and transcripts, indicating that they have the personal strengths, strong work ethic, and professional experience that benefit businesses.
Research has also shown that students working seasonal jobs are more likely to graduate high school and increase earnings later in their careers because of the skills they gain during their experience. By participating in the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Edge program, high school students work in a paid position toward the requirements of the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal while growing as a professional in areas such as leadership, critical thinking, discipline, teamwork, and more within the following departments:
• Zoo and Zoombezi Bay: Rides and Attractions, Food and Beverage, Lifeguards, Retail, and Guest Relations
• The Wilds: Food Service, Retail, and Admission
To participate in the Edge Program and fulfill program requirements, students must:
• Obtain the Student OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal Validation Form from their school office or online at education.ohio.gov.
• Indicate that they are working towards their seal by speaking with their manager/mentor and filling out the Edge Program Commitment Form.
• Work 300 hours with the Zoo, Zoombezi Bay, or The Wilds over their high school academic career. This can be done over multiple seasons.
• Arrange to meet with their mentor within one week of program start date and then at least once every 100 hours until their program completion.
A Family Information Night will be held at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Monday, April 22, at 6:30 p.m. Students and their families are invited attend to learn more about the Edge Program, have an opportunity to ask questions, meet members of the Ohio Department of Education, and enjoy light snacks and beverages while hearing more about what the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has to offer to both employees and guests.
“We are very proud to offer the Edge Program to the many talented, motivated high school students in our community, who are looking to enhance their skills and demonstrate their advanced proficiency in working in a professional setting,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President and CEO Tom Stalf. “In addition to building strong foundations for their future careers, the overall experience of participating in the Edge Program is meant to be meaningful on multiple levels for students wanting to make a difference. The Columbus Zoo, Zoombezi Bay, and The Wilds are incredibly unique and fantastic places to work, and we hope to see many students participate in the Edge Program as we all work in a variety of ways toward the Zoo’s mission to lead and inspire by connecting people to wildlife.”