Personality Profiles

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Senior Kristin Smith stands in front of an exhibit while working at the Brookfield Zoo and discusses an animal skull.

By Courtney Byczynski, Staff Reporter

Senior Kristin Smith stands in front of an exhibit while working at the Brookfield Zoo and discusses an animal skull.

Senior Kristin Smith stands in front of an exhibit while working at the Brookfield Zoo and discusses an animal skull.

For many people, Brookfield Zoo is merely a place for a fun day trip. However, senior Kristin Smith spends her summers volunteering there through the Chicago Zoological Society’s Youth Volunteer Corps.

Smith explained, “While I’m working in the summer, I stand in front of various animal exhibits during the day with different specimen like animal skulls or fur and I talk to guests about the animals and conservation.”

Although she does not typically work directly with the animals, she sometimes gets stationed at the goat yard in the petting zoo where she is at least working closer to the animals themselves.

Smith has always been a fan of working with animals and visiting the zoo, even at a young age. Her love for animals stemmed from always having cats and dogs in the house, eventually compelling her to want to work with more exotic animals, not just regular domesticated pets.

With this passion for animals in mind, Smith decided to take advantage of the opportunity a couple of years ago when she heard the Brookfield Zoo was accepting applications.

Smith’s supervisor, Debra Kutska, who also started her career with animals by volunteering at the zoo exclaimed that Smith’s “enthusiasm for the natural world comes through every time she engages with guests… and she has been an excellent volunteer.”

In addition to volunteering during the summer, Smith also has the opportunity to work two seasonal events.

The first event she works is the zoo’s annual Halloween celebration called “Creatures of the Night.” This event takes place throughout the month of October and it allows visitors to come to the zoo during nighttime. There is also an event for daytime visitors with younger children called “Boo at the Zoo.”

During this month-long celebration, visitors get to experience the “Trail of Terror” set in Stingray Bay, as all the stingrays are gone for season.

Additionally during this Halloween event,  there is “the haunted tram ride where guests take the tram around a dimly lit course and in it there are little sections with themes like werewolves, zombies, [and] horror movies”

The other event Smith gets to work is their winter event called “Holiday Magic” during which workers again dress up as characters or help escort others in costume.

Smith plans on working at the zoo for at least a few more years, and also plans on studying zoology at Colorado State University.

Studying zoology basically means she will “study animals, including their classification, structure, and behavior.”

Specifically, she wishes to pursue a career with wolves or large cats. Smith has always found wolves interesting as her parents and her “used to [visit] this place in Indiana called Wolf Park and they had overnight summer camps [she] would attend where [she] would learn about wolves and the environment around them.”

Her interest in big cats emerged recently when she saw a documentary about a man who trained lions and tigers that would be used in movies. What really stood out to her was the relationship shared by the animals and the trainer and “how they seemed like over- sized house cats in their mannerism [and how] they would purr and rub up against him whenever they saw him.”

Smith hopes that her love and compassion for animals eventually leads her to “work in a zoo or … an animal sanctuary where I can be involved with an animal [and] teach people about them.”

Volunteering at the zoo is fulfilling for many reasons. Kutska explained that “for teens interested in working with animals or in conservation, volunteering at Brookfield Zoo is a great way to gain experience and get ‘a foot in the door’ to this unique world. Teens in our program also make lasting friendships with students they may otherwise never have met.”

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Students from the Prostart team, a culinary competition club recieve second place in the national competition held on April 21.

By Aiste Markevicius,

Students from the Prostart team, a culinary competition club recieve second place in the national competition held on April 21.

Students from the Prostart team, a culinary competition club recieve second place in the national competition held on April 21.

Editor-in-Chief

Senior Michael Bode and his sister have cooked breakfast for their family every Sunday morning since sixth grade. Bode developed this passion for the culinary arts by watching various cooking shows, such as the “Rachael Ray Show,” with this sister.

“We would usually [make] something we called a scrambler, which was scrambled eggs with a lot of stuff in it, like onions, peppers, cheese [and] tomatoes,” Bode said. “We would usually serve it with sausage or bacon, and of course we always had coffee with it.”

Bode continued to explore the culinary field when he attended DGS. After completing Foods I and II, Bode decided to enroll in the Technology Center of Dupage (TCD) Culinary Pastry Arts and Hospitality Management program his junior year.

Bode also decided to join the Prostart team that same year, which is a culinary competition club, and stayed on the team into his senior year. The competing team members this year consists of four students from neighboring schools, in which Bode serves as an alternate.

According to the National Restaurant Association (NRAEF), Prostart  “provides real-life experience opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime.”

The TCD Prostart team competes against other Prostart teams across the country annually. On Feb. 23, Bode and his team members received first place in the state competition and advanced to the national competition, which was held April 21 in Baltimore.

The team won second place at Nationals, with their three course meal that consisted of various food such as caramelized carrot soup, Maharajah spiced boneless lamb rack and white chocolate orange mousse.

With their achievement, each member of the team also received a $3,000 scholarship from the NRAEF.

Although Bode was an alternate for the team, he learned a lot through the experience and “you could not remove the smiles from [the team members’] faces for the rest of the night.”

TCD’s culinary arts instructor Matt Barker has known Bode for two years and is proud of his hard work.

“[Bode] has matured in the two years I have seen him and has started making strides as a leader,” Barker said. “[Bode] is a hard worker and will be very successful in this industry. He has the ability to talk to anyone which is great in the hospitality industry.”

Bode hopes to continue to pursue his passion as he attends College of Dupage, where he will major in culinary arts. Bode strives to become an executive chef, and his dream is to work at a fine dining restaurant.

“I like to make people happy,” Bode said.  “I would say that cooking and what I do with food…is what makes people happy and that makes me happy.”

Although Bode urges other students to explore the culinary field, he warns that one needs to be dedicated.

“I’d say you have to… be very passionate about culinary arts. If you’re not passionate about it, you’re not gonna make it. I say you have to be willing to put in a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours and if you’re willing to do that, then you’ll be successful and you’ll get a lot out of it.”