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RPS Offers New Opportunity with “Zoo Academy” - Two RHS Students Qualify for Program

Science labs are about to look very different for Grace Belter and Brooklyn Smith, two Ralston High School students who earned admission to the “Zoo Academy” for the 2019-2020 school year.  “It’s the perfect opportunity to learn about the field before I go to college,” said Belter, who will begin 11th grade in August. “Who wouldn’t want to go to school at the Zoo?” said soon-to-be 12th grader Smith, with a smile.

Grace Belter
Grace Belter

Brooklyn Smith
Brooklyn Smith


The Zoo Academy is offered on the campus of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, providing students with knowledge and career explorations relating to life sciences through experiential learning.  Omaha Public Schools, Papillion-La Vista Community Schools, and the Zoo have partnered for a full-day academy since 2009. Enrollment was recently opened to other metro-area districts. For Ralston Public Schools and its blueprint career education program, the additional offering means students now have learning opportunities in each of the six career fields defined by the Nebraska Department of Education, as displayed in the graphic below.

NDE Career Fields


After hearing about the new opportunity from Ralston High School staff, Belter knew it was the path she wanted to pursue.  “I want to be a Game Warden or a Conservation Officer when I grow up because I think the work is important,” she said. For Smith, the science is an attraction as big as the penguins.  “I want to be a Forensic Scientist,” Smith explained, “so practicing science in this way is exciting.” Both Smith and Belter received their acceptance emails during the school day and could not wait to share the news.  “I was so happy, I almost started to cry in class,” Belter laughed. “I was screaming I was so excited. Everyone looked at me strangely until I told them I got into the Zoo Academy. I was happy and proud,” Smith added.


Both will begin studies at the Zoo Academy in August 2019.  The academy has a separate application process and students interested in more information should talk with their guidance counselor about the opportunity.  For more on other career-related learning opportunities in Ralston Public Schools, follow this link.