Conservation Interpretation Assistant Manager
Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Year zoo career began:
Karen is the Conservation Interpretation (C.I.) Assistant Manager at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo where she helps oversee the training, scheduling and day-to-day operations of the C.I. team. In any area of the zoo where a guest can come into direct contact with an animal, a C.I. is there to make sure interactions occur safely while allowing guests to create a connection with their role in conservation. Additionally, Karen’s team carries out conservation education presentations throughout the zoo including media and virtual content, and local community events.
Karen grew up in Fresno and attended local schools and in high school, took part in programs and clubs that helped forge her passion for education and conservation. Many of these experiences allowed her to learn core skills including writing lesson plans, putting together labs for classes, and even taking classes to local rivers to learn about their importance to the environment and how to protect them. In 2017, she was hired as a seasonal Operations Associate at Sea Life Aquarium, which was the first time she learned the opportunities zoos and aquariums offer in the world of conservation. Eventually, she relocated back to Fresno and was hired as a Conservation Interpreter where she led presentations, participated in media appearances, and helped train newcomers; she later moved into her current position.
Karen’s favorite part of her job is being able to transform someone’s visit to a zoo into an inspiring experience through connecting the guest to their roles in protecting species and ecosystems. She is greatly inspired by her mother who was a very successful teacher, a role she had to step back from when they immigrated to the U.S. Karen advises to never lose track of where you come from and what inspires to follow your path – be thankful for those that came before you and the doors they opened for you and strive to open doors for those you will inspire to follow in your footsteps. She also wants younger latinx generations to know that you are represented, we are here paving the way for you, your voice matters and you can make a difference.