| WOMEN IN THE WILD

Christina Dembiec

| Areas of Expertise

Anthropology, Primatology, and Education

| Born

Del Rio, Texas

| Currently

Jacksonville, Florida

| Favorite Quote

“All children need nature. Not just the ones whose parents appreciate nature. Not only those children of a certain economic class or culture or set of abilities. Every child.” 

– Richard Louv

| Job Title

Community Education Manager, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

| Degree

BA Anthropology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA MSc Primate Conservation, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK MEd Leadership & Learning, Jacksonville University, Florida

| Biography

Christina is a self-described life-long learner whose personal mission is to connect people with nature. This former zookeeper, trained in Anthropology and Primatology, found a calling in connecting people to their environment through informal science education. She is currently the Community Education Manager at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, where among other things, she manages the Wildlife Immersion and Leadership Development (W.I.L.D.) Program which offers paid employment to youth ages 14-18 from under-supported communities in Jacksonville. Christina, along with her team of more than 20 teens and adult staff, connect with nature, engage in outdoor recreation and service projects, design and deliver engaging and educational live-animal outreaches, and spread a positive message of conservation and education throughout the region. She also serves as the Youth Initiatives Director for Duval Audubon Society, and is one of Florida’s regional leaders for the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation. Christina and her husband Dan recently launched their own consulting firm, engaging early-to-mid career zoo professionals with personal and professional development, as well as providing environmental and outdoor education consulting to schools and other youth-serving organizations. When she is not working, Christina is a daughter, a wife, and a mom, and shares her home with two dogs, two cats, and a gecko. She enjoys spending time with her parents and her family, playing outside, cooking, and dreaming of vacation time.

| We all have days when we’re a little crabby.

 

| Challenges

Like most women, I’ve faced my share of challenges in my professional life. I’ve learned not to let other people’s expectations of me limit what I believe I can achieve. Remember that you have the right to be ALL the women you want to be: a daughter, a mother, a spouse, a partner, a manager, a director, a teacher, a student, a leader… you are the only limit to the goals you wish to achieve.

| Emotional Story

Working with teenagers can be an emotional roller coaster, but the good far outweighs anything else. Every time my team delivers an entertaining and educational live animal outreach program, I’m always proud of the hard work they and I’ve put into creating and executing their performances. It is especially heartwarming to see the teens get a shout out on our social media or receive positive reviews from guests. It’s a powerful reminder of the progress our team has experienced, and the leadership roles they & I’ve discovered over the course of their program. The most rewarding part is knowing that we’ve made a positive impact on their careers and their academic futures. Six seniors are graduating out of our program this year. It makes my heart happy every time they ask for a letter of recommendation, or tell us that they and I’ve been accepted to their top choices for college, or are awarded a scholarship. I have been so lucky to have them on my team and in my life!  

| Conservation Tip

Get an education, stay in school, pursue knowledge and grow a love of learning.  Learn to think for yourself.  Learn how to investigate a problem and generate potential solutions.  Explore things that hold your interest.  Gather evidence to make informed decisions about yourself, your life, your planet.  Never stop learning.

| Advice

1. Conscious self-assessment is the greatest tool you have in your toolkit.  Seek to understand yourself so that you can better understand others.
2. Passion takes WORK.  Don’t try to do it all by yourself.  It’s okay to rely on a trusted support network to help you accomplish your goals.
3. Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.

| If You Could Be Any Animal, What Would You Be?

Lemurs have always been my favorite animal.  I guess I can identify with their strong female leadership and family ties.  Plus, I love resting in the sun, taking in a warm, summer day.

| Contact

Website: http://jacksonvillezoo.org/wildwire Here’s a little insight into the W.I.L.D. Program and my amazing team of staff!
Social:    
Email: dembiecc@gmail.com