Until COVID shut down Zoo Miami, Jake Rosner, a senior at Palmetto High School, volunteered as a Conversation Teen Scientist.
“We go to the exhibits and we explain about each animal in the exhibits,” he says. “And some of their threats.”
Until COVID, they went once every two weeks.
“I’m a huge animal lover. When I grow up, I want to be a conservationist and zoologist,” he says. “I figured it would be a good way to jump start my career in animal protection.”
His favorite animals are the elephants and orangutans.
“They are so smart and it’s cool to see them interact with their surroundings and guests,” he says. “The orangutans, they are always do something interesting. Making hand motions at them. And the guests make hand motions back.”
When he first started, they had to train for two weeks and then for the first year, the teens would partner up with someone.
“They’d give you tips on how to deal with guests and situations,” he says. “I love to teach people about animals, it’s great to see young kids be so passionate about animals like I was.”
This summer, the teens did online work, focusing on activities to train them on current environmental issues and wildlife.
They also worked on a community science website called Zooniverse, which involves making observations on projects that use wildlife cameras in order to aid scientists and keep track of animal population numbers.
Rosner says the activities trained them for when they do go back to the zoo.
Rosner says he’s always loved nature, having grown up around the ocean and being outside. He loves to snorkel and scuba dive and to look at the ocean creatures.
This year, on a few occasions, he either found injured animals or had people who found injured or sick animals bring them to him.
“Especially injured birds, including a Laughing Gull and Ovenbird,” he says. “I would then bring them to sanctuaries nearby that could care for them. Or, if their injuries weren’t severe, I would care for them for a few days before release.”
His love of nature includes gardening. He worked with his brother Ryan Rosner and his friends more than a year ago on creating the Rescue Garden at Miami Rescue Mission. Until the COVID shutdown, every couple of weeks he had gone to the Rescue Mission to help keep the garden in shape but hasn’t been able to go since March.
He hasn’t abandoned the Rescue Mission. Over social media, he got the word out that they were collecting the specific supplies the shelter requested- cleaning supplies and school supplies.
“We gave a list of certain donations to bring and asked that whoever wants to donate brings the donations to a box we left outside our homes,” he says. “That way we could safely collect the supplies without direct interaction. We also offered community service hours to whoever donates as an incentive. Once we collected as many supplies as we could, we brought them to the shelter and handed them over in a safe manner.”
At school, Rosner is in the National Honor Society, the Social Studies Honor Society, a participant in History Bowl and a participant in Envirothon. He was on the Class of 2021 Cabinet and is on the Student Council Senate as chair of Environmental Outreach.
He received the Panther of Distinction Award at the April Award Ceremony.
His college list includes schools that are good for Zoology – including the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Florida.
Liinda Rodroguez Bernfeld