Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap is a new initiative from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) that seeks to connect high school students who have an interest in pursuing further study and/or a career in conservation science, zoology, marine science, ecology, or biology, directly with professionals in those fields.  In addition to receiving hands-on experience and mentoring, students will obtain information in areas including educational planning, financial aid options, effective job search methods, resume building, networking, job referral, and more.  Bridging the Gap is supported through a generous $1.1 million dollar grant from The National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent federal agency.

All five WCS living institutions will participate in this new program: Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and New York Aquarium. 3 cohorts of 50 students each will participate. Students are selected on a variety of criteria including interest in STEM, willingness to commit to all phases of the project, and school and parental support.

Program Overview

Bridging the Gap’s programming is grouped into four phases:

Phase I: School-to-Career Institute 
The School-to-Career Institute is an intensive learning program which seeks to introduce participants to the variety of science careers in zoos and aquariums. Students will attend 11 sessions that include conducting animal behavior studies, designing a zoo exhibit, and learning about the variety of zoo and aquarium careers by meeting with WCS staff.

Phase II: Mentoring
Each student will be paired with a WCS staff member who is currently in a career that aligns with the future goals of the student.

Phase III: Career Building Clinic
Students will develop a skill acquisition plan that will include high school course selection, interview coaching, college applications, scholarships/financial aid, and campus visits. 

Phase IV: Internships/Employment
WCS offers a variety of paid internship experiences for Bridging the Gap participants that include hands-on work experience and job shadowing opportunities.

Updates from Bridging the Gap!

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Cohort 1

  • 48 students from 12 schools successfully completed the School to Career Institute and Career Building Clinic. They have been talking with their mentors since the winter and are now enjoying a variety of internship opportunities at the zoos.
  • Highlights include:
    • 3 teens help install green roof modules at the Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens Zoos
    • A number of students have been counselors in training and are helping out with zoo camp at all of the zoos.
    • A student at the Central Park Zoo is working with the aviculturalist to study the sea duck collection.
    • A group of students at the Bronx Zoo are developing Bridging the Gap social media campaigns by setting up Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook pages. Look for the links soon!

Cohort 2

  • Almost all of the Cohort 2 students have been accepted into the program. The sessions begin in September.

Cohort 3

  • We will begin recruiting our final cohort this fall. If you are interested in the program, please contact Courtney Wiggins (718) 741-1671. We require a meeting with school counselors or administration in order for students to participate in Bridging the Gap.