Conservation School

Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District is pleased to introduce “Conservation School”. This program will meet the needs of high school students looking for a career in the conservation, forestry, agriculture and animal industries. By providing the students with hands-on programing, they will work directly with professionals in their specialized fields to develop an understanding for each career field. The students will also be engaged in career building development such as team building, leadership development, proper workplace attire and professionalism, resume and cover letter building, and interviewing and public speaking abilities. By encompassing all these things in high school, we are setting students up for success early on and assisting them to make tougher decisions when building their college careers and life-time goals.

Muskingum County has lacked in providing high school students hands-on career building opportunities in the conservation industry. This program will provide high school students in Muskingum County the opportunity to job shadow, ask questions and work with professionals in their specialized fields.

Students will meet with the Education Specialist from Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District, Ashlee Kopchak, twice a month for a full day to participate in pre-planned outings and job shadowing.

Students will be responsible for providing an end-of-the-year presentation to build their public speaking skills. Topics for their presentations can include but are not limited to: how this program will help them as they begin decision making on colleges and career aspiration, develop and implement a plan (if possible) on how to make their school a “green school,” or build on an already existing project within their school district.

If successful, students will be awarded a $500 scholarship and receive a general, transferable college credit.

 Students will be expected to attend all events; however, we understand there can be extenuating circumstances. If days are missed, there will be supplemental work to be done in lieu of the missed time.

Below is a list of the businesses and agencies who are willing to host the students for a day or half a day to walk them through their day-to-day activities, answer any questions they may have, and offer support in their future career aspirations.

  • The Wilds: Students will have the opportunity to work with the Animal Management Staff, Veterinarian and Veterinarian Technicians, and the Environmental Education staff members.
  • The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: Students will work with the CEO of Partners in Conservation (a global conservation outreach program working with facilities and programs all over the world), the Environmental Education staff, and Zookeepers throughout the zoo.
  • Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation District: Students will work with state employees, engage in policy making and learning how policies are made and passed in the state of Ohio.
  • Ohio Department of Agriculture: Students will tour facility and talk with professionals throughout the tour.
  • Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District: Along with working directly with the Education Specialist, students will be given the opportunity to work with other members of the Soil and Water staff. They will receive hands-on experience in Agriculture, Forestry, and water quality, through water sampling and testing in the office.
  • Environmental Protection Agency: Students will work with employees of EPA discussing water quality and testing. They will be involved in hands-on stream monitoring, collecting samples and specimens to determine the quality of water and how to enhance and protect it.
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Students will shadow and discuss daily activities with an Ohio Wildlife Officer and how they protect our natural resources. Students will also explore other areas such as the Division of Forestry, state parks, oil and gas, wildlife, and water resources.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service: Students will work directly with a NRCS employee where they will discuss opportunities the agency can provide for land users and landowners throughout the state including conservation planning, technical assistance and federal funding programs.
  • Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District: Students will explore conservation and flood reduction. They will also work with staff about park careers.
  • City of Zanesville Mayor, Don Mason: Mr. Mason will discuss with students how he has excelled in his career in politics to where he is today. He will encompass how conservation, agriculture, and natural resources fit into his career as the representative for the City of Zanesville.
  • Zane State College: Students will work with the Natural Resources professor discussing the programs Zane State has to offer to students interested in the conservation industry. They will also be working with Dean of Arts and Sciences in water quality and testing.
  • Ohio State University Extension: Students will work with the Muskingum County Extension Educators in 4-H Youth Development and Agriculture.
  • Ohio Farm Bureau: With the support of the Ohio Farm Bureau students will be given the opportunity to work with farmers around the county and engage in on farm tours.
  • Fenders Fish Hatchery: Students will work with professionals within the hatchery and discuss pond conservation and the importance of the hatchery.

To apply, send completed application, resume, cover letter, two letters of recommendation (from non-relatives) and the accompanying medical, transportation, and photo release forms to Ashlee Kopchak, Education and Information Specialist at Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District 225 Underwood St. Ste. 100 Zanesville, Ohio 43701 or electronically to Ashlee Kopchak

Funded by the J.W & M.H Straker Charitable Foundation