Biracial (Indonesian/ White)
Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
Year zoo career began:
Eli deNijs is a schools educator at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium where he works with local schools creating curriculum and getting teachers and students access to the zoo. Eli also helps coordinate the annual Teen Eco Summit, which sees students from around the state come together to complete sustainability projects within their schools and communities.
Growing up in rural Ohio, Eli did not see many teachers with similar backgrounds other than his father. As he got older, Eli knew that he wanted to help people and realized the best way he could do that was through education. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in Integrated Language Arts/English Education, which focuses on social justice, Eli became a classroom teacher. However, he soon realized that was not where his passions lay.
Having attended camps, taken weekly trips to the Columbus Zoo with his family, and worked as a summer camp counselor, working at the zoo fulltime had always seemed like a dream to Eli. With his position at the Columbus Zoo, Eli is able to bring his passion for social justice education and wildlife together on a daily basis. He hopes to spark an interest in conservation and wildlife for local students that may eventually lead to them seeking jobs in the industry.