Henry Doorly Zoo accepts Baylee Clang into Zoo Academy

Taegan Jacobs, Features Editor

The Zoo Academy is a two year high school program offered through the Henry Doorly Zoo that allows students to gain knowledge and explore careers relating to life sciences. The program is offered to students every year, but with the selective application process and limited spots open for the program, only three Bellevue West students have been accepted in the past.

Sophomore Baylee Clang, who was just accepted into the program for the 2019-2020 school year, has become the fourth.

“I had to read [the email] like seven different times and I just kept reading it over and over and over again, and I was like, ‘wait a second,’” Clang said. “And then I screamed really loud, I did the ugliest laugh I’ve ever had in my life, and I ran around outside my neighborhood screaming at the top of my lungs when it was dark out.”

Students were first informed about open applications to the program in an advisory lesson earlier in the school year.

“We put together a video of some of our current academy students,” Counselor Melissa Minahan said. “We got some pictures, some of their talking points, and then we had put that out during advisory.”

Students interested in the Zoo Academy were offered the opportunity to go on a tour of the zoo in November. Minahan said it was a way for students to see if the program was really something that was right for them.

“We took a van load of students to the zoo to do a tour,” Minahan said. “to meet with the staff that worked there, to meet with current students so they would really know what it was they were getting involved with. And then, afterwards, we had some kids apply.”

One of the reasons Clang chose to apply was her love of animals.

“Ever since I can remember animals have been one of the first memories in my life,” Clang said. “There’s something about them that I am so passionate about and they’re so interesting.”

Some of the requirements for the program were good grades and attendance record, according to Clang. She also had to write an essay about why she thought she should be allowed into the program and another about a conservative issue she’s passionate about.

“I wrote about deforestation,” Clang said, “I think it’s a huge problem that more people need to be educated on because it’s going to cause a huge problem, and it is causing a huge problem.”

Since being accepted, the Zoo Academy has been communicating to Clang through Minahan. They’ve been working together to come up with her schedule for next year.

“They sent me information about the different programs she could be apart of,” Minahan said. “there’s kind of two tracks that you can do. One of the tracks is like an animal science track you can do through the zoo academy. And then the other one is the conservation research pathway.”

Although they won’t know Clang’s exact schedule until April or May, it is certain that she will be spending the first half of the school day taking academy classes and the second half at Bellevue West. She’ll be receiving high school credit for all classes.

After high school, Clang hopes to attend a four year college to study to become a veterinarian.  

“I plan, or hope, to become a veterinarian in some way,” Clang said. “And this will just help further me in that pathway. I can’t decide on which type of animal I would like to focus on, but I hope that this program and this experience will help me decide.”

It was also the people she met on the tour that made her want to apply to the academy.

“They’re all passionate about what they do and I think that that’s just a great environment to work in and to learn and to be educated,” Clang said.

Clang, who will attend her junior and senior year, hopes the Zoo Academy will provide her with more opportunities.

“I really hope it opens more doors for me later in life,” Clang said. “I hope that it will show me a new world that I haven’t seen before and just teach me as much as it can.”