Alicia Halpin Ortiz
Community Engagement Educator
Year zoo career began:
Alicia Halpin Ortiz is the Community Engagement Educator at the Philadelphia Zoo, where she creates and facilitates education programs for all audiences, with a special focus on the students in the neighborhoods surrounding the Zoo. In her role, she works to expand opportunities that foster curiosity and reconnect people with nature.
Alicia grew up in New York City and craved any opportunity to connect to nature. She knew from a young age that she would want to use her fascination with living things to make a positive impact. So, in high school, she spent her afternoons working at an animal hospital, and her vacations volunteering at a horse farm in the Poconos. After graduating from Lafayette College with a degree in Biology, Alicia began volunteering and then working as an interpreter at the Philadelphia Zoo. From the conversations she was able to have, she found a new joy in working with people and wanted to grow her educational experience. She began simultaneously working with the Student Conservation Association, where she was able to practice modifying and adapting materials to meet the needs of diverse audiences, and in different contexts. From there, she wanted to get new insights into working with different learners while promoting personal and academic development and decided to pursue a Master of Science in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Now she can use her experiences to build programs and learning materials that are inclusive and rooted in curriculum.
Alicia’s favorite part of her job is sharing her excitement for wildlife and the natural world with others. She enjoys opportunities to engage with other people and to be challenged to consider new perspectives, and hopes to exemplify being a lifelong learner in her role as an educator.