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  TEXAS FFA MEMBER COMPLETES HOUSTON ZOO CREW PROGRAM
 
By: McKenzie Ellis, Texas FFA News Staff
November 15, 2017

 
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For the past two years, Charis Phelps of the Hardin-Jefferson FFA chapter has worked alongside the Houston Zoo as part of their Zoo Crew Program. 

Beginning in the education department, Phelps would teach zoo visitors about specific animals and how to protect them. By year two, she was promoted to the Hoof Stock Department, where she gained hands-on experience interacting and taking care of giraffes, rhinos, and other smaller hoofed animals.



As an active FFA member, Phelps has grown and developed new skills to accomplishe the goals she sets.

“Starting out my freshman year, my ag teachers had me hit the ground running by participating in events and activities,” said Phelps. “There was no option to be shy.”

She describes her work with the Houston Zoo as an adventure, with a new task each day. The differing tasks resulted in Phelps becoming more versatile as she adapted to her work.

“Every day [Charis] would get hands-on experience with interacting and taking care of these unique animals,” said Courtney Champagne, Hardin-Jefferson FFA advisor. “Tasks would range from helping with a neonatal operation on a gazelle to feeding giraffes.”

In addition to the invaluable experience she gained, Phelps was recognized as the 2017 Texas FFA proficiency winner in Specialty Animal Production.

“It gave me the feeling of excitement to know that everything that I worked for had paid off,” said Phelps. 

Champagne credits Phelps’ FFA experience for pushing her out of her shell and developing new confidence in her abilities.

“As I watched her walk across the stage [at convention] to receive her award, I remembered her first day in ag class, just a spunky freshman ready to take on every challenge,” said Champagne. “Fast forward four years, she has grown into a well-rounded young lady.”
 
 
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