The Minnesota Zoo is well known for its 485 acre facility in Apple Valley, Minnesota – just minutes away from the Mall of America. However people may be less familiar with the amazing work the Zoo does outside of Minnesota. The Zoo’s Conservation Advisory Team and the Minnesota Zoo Foundation have been sending Zoo staff around the world for years with the Ulysses S. Seal Conservation Grant. This grant allows staff to help support conservation projects they are personally passionate about and even participate hands-on in the research, if possible. From Hyacinth macaws to endangered sea turtles, the Minnesota Zoo has sent staff to 24 different countries on 58 grant projects and is excited to continue this great extension of the conservation work being done here at the Zoo itself. Overall, the grant has provided over $365,000 of critically-needed funds to over 120 unique conservation programs in 47 countries around the world.
My name is Josh Le and I am the current Social Media and Marketing Coordinator at the Minnesota Zoo. I was recently excited to hear that my Ulysses S. Seal Conservation Grant application to travel to Guatemala to work with an organization called ARCAS was approved and I was heading out February 8. ARCAS is a conservation organization in Guatemala working to rescue, rehabilitate and release wild animals that have been captured for the illegal pet trade. They also work to conserve endangered sea turtles and provide educational outreach to local schools to teach students of the importance of wildlife.
Currently, I am stationed at their Peten Rescue Center in the middle of the tropical rainforest. My job is to work with as many of the campus/site directors as possible to help them develop a solid social media strategy so they can continue to share their story, as well as source valuable resources, including volunteers. So far my time here has been quite busy, but I am learning so much more about ARCAS and the amazing work they are doing each day to conserve their local wildlife.
Here is a brief rundown of my “typical” day:
6:30 – 8:00 am | Wake up and help feed the hundreds of animals they are caring for, as well as clean out all of their habitats.
9:00 – 11:00 am | Volunteer chores to help maintain the facility which could include cleaning the volunteer house, raking pathways, repainting signs, washing animal towels, etc.
11:00 am – 1:00 pm | Clean up the food from the animals breakfast and re-clean all of their habitats.
The rest of my day consists of working with ARCAS staff to learn as much as I can about what they do as an organization and how they can best use social media to improve their online presence. The days are quite long and the bug bites never end, but the amazing animals help. 🙂
Check back soon for my next blog as I head to their Hawaii Parque site to work with the ARCAS staff there first hand on their sea turtle conservation work.
¡Hasta luego amigos!