DCCC Zoo and Aquarium Science Coordinator Travels to Kenya Wildlife Preserve, Hopes to Offer Same Opportunity to Students
June 20, 2013 – There’s nothing more exhilarating than fulfilling one of your lifelong dreams. Mark Stevens, Zoo and Aquarium Science program coordinator and faculty member at Davidson County Community College, did just that by traveling to a Kenyan wildlife preserve – and it’s something he hopes to someday share firsthand with students in the ZAS program.
“This was a personal trip for me, but I’m passionate about wildlife,” Stevens says. “This was my first time visiting Africa – and I hope it’s the first of many trips there.”
Stevens visited Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, which is located on land owned by The Nature Conservancy – a 65,000-acre preserve in Kenya, and hopes to incorporate a life-changing opportunity for DCCC students in the future as a living and learning experience that will help them gain incredible real world knowledge overseas.
“I teach a class on conservation of natural resources, and it’s really remarkable to be able to teach them something from personal experience,” Stevens says.
In fact, Stevens spent five hours talking and teaching about his travels in Kenya to students, who were filled with questions about what he experienced.
“I presented a slide show of my trip; each picture had a story behind it, and it was thrilling to be able to share this with students,” Stevens says. “That was part of the whole experience – sharing information about the ecosystem, conservation and more with my students.”
He shared stories about going on game drives, visiting – and delivering supplies – to health clinics and primary schools, and witnessing an elephant “knock down” (a procedure used on large animals that require medical attention), and much more.
Stevens says he was fortunate to have had such an amazing opportunity, as he traveled overseas as part of Bowling for Rhinos, a nonprofit organization that raises money and awareness for black and white rhinos – animals that are highly endangered. The money Stevens spent to take the trip goes directly back into wildlife conservancy, assisting schools and clinics, and helping to protect the perimeter of the conservancy.
“The preserve serves as a financial resource for the locals – so the value of wildlife is really high,” Stevens says. “This stimulates their economy.”
Ultimately, his hope is to establish relationships with conservancies like Lewa, and eventually send DCCC students overseas to learn about wildlife while immersed in it.
“My dream – and goal – was to go to Africa,” Stevens says. “Now, I hope to one day make those dreams a reality for our ZAS students. I tell my students ‘don’t just dream about it, do it.’ If you dream about it, write it down and doors will open.”
To learn more about the Zoo and Aquarium Science program at DCCC, visit https://davidsonccc.edu/zas. DCCC will also offer Aquarium Science for the first time in the fall 2013 semester. The program, which will allow students to earn an associate degree in applied science, is designed to help students become entry-level aquarists, working with marine and aquatic life found at public aquariums, zoological parks and research facilities throughout the world.
*Editor’s Note: In the first photo is Mark Stevens with a rhino on the conservancy. Pictures two and three include some of the animals Stevens saw during his visit.
Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully-accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations, and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College on the Web at davidsonccc.edu.