The Chattanooga Zoo’s Community Partnership Department was established to seek and foster relationships with local organizations in order to serve a more diverse audience, and promote the Zoo as a resource for all members of the community. A primary goal under this mission is to expand the diversity of our programming audience by exploring and creating opportunities specifically suited for individuals of differing backgrounds, ethnicities, abilities and needs.
PEDZ (Promoting Ethnic Diversity in Zoos)
Each summer, a number of teens are chosen for 8 weeks of training in all aspects of the Zoo’s operation. Teens get training in animal husbandry, visitor interaction, animal behavior and city standards of employee performance. At the end of the eight weeks, up to one-half of the summer trainees might be selected for part-time continued employment for the fall and spring. Selection is based on work performance, attitude, and availability at the Zoo. Some of our trainees have gone on to work in concessions, admissions and gift shop, summer camp, and as part-time keepers in other areas of the Zoo.
2013 PEDZ program supported by:
The Zoo Connections program is an extension of the PEDZ program and reaches out to disadvantaged youth in the Chattanooga area and introduces them to careers in the zoo field. The program targets youth in grades 8-12 and connects them to the Zoo through summer camp, volunteering, PEDZ summer work program, mentoring, extended employment opportunities, and college stipends.
Current and Past Partners
Hope for the Inner City
Hope for the Inner City is a faith-based organization that offers a range of support and enrichment services to the families and youth of the urban neighborhoods of Chattanooga. Their target population is inner-city, African American youth. Hope for the Inner City offers a Summer Work Adventure Program (SWAP) to promising African American teens who demonstrate academic excellence and responsibility.
The AIM Center
The AIM Center of Chattanooga was created to promote independence in the lives of adults who have experienced mental setbacks and are trying to transition back into mainstream society. The Center provides their members with opportunities to achieve and sustain a level of mental and emotional well-being consistent with living in and contributing to the community. AIM membership is entirely voluntary. The Center currently has 2,300 members, 250 of which attend the center on a monthly basis. The Center’s goals include job placement for 120 members within the community.
Orange Grove Center
Founded in 1953, the Orange Grove Center of Chattanooga provides educational opportunities, vocational training, medical care, and community participation to developmentally disabled individuals. One facet of Orange Grove’s programming is off-site employment opportunities at partnering facilities.
Goodwill Industries “serves and empowers people with disabilities and/or disadvantages.” One of the programs under Goodwill is a summer employment program for teens with learning and/or behavioral problems. The program partners with several worksites to provide a community service while teaching work ethic, pride in personal effort and teamwork to participating youths. Individuals are eligible to participate in the summer work program twice before permanently graduating.