Meet the Zoo Camp Leadership Staff:


The Brookfield Zoo Camp staff take pride in their ability to foster an environment that celebrates animals and nature. Our camp leadership staff and counselor team are chosen for their experience in creating an environment that is fun, educational, and inclusive. When your child leaves camp, they will have gained a deeper connection to wild things and wild places, and will have built rewarding friendships along the way. The Brookfield Zoo Camp staff are dedicated to ensuring all campers are able to reach their fullest potential, regardless of ability. Come meet some of Zoo Camp’s leadership staff:

Dave Becker, Senior Manager of Learning Experiences Dave Becker, Senior Manager of Learning Experiences

Dave Becker has led the Chicago Zoological Society's early childhood initiative since 2001 and has specialized in children and family learning in informal environments for nearly 20 years.

Jill Damato, Manager, NatureStart Programs Jill Damato, Manager, NatureStart Programs

Jill’s career as a zoo educator was sparked by an internship with Brookfield Zoo’s education department that eventually led to full-time work. Having been with the Hamill Family Play Zoo exhibit since it opened has afforded her opportunities to be a part of connecting families with wildlife and nature while directly supporting zoo initiatives related to early childhood education, and inclusion and accessibility. When not at the zoo or doing work towards the completion of her M.A. in Biology you’ll likely find her catch-riding whichever friends’ horse she can, creating miniature gardens, and stumbling upon random and cool animal facts on social media.

Jon Meisenbach, Camp Supervisor Jon Meisenbach, Camp Supervisor

After spending 5 years as a zoo educator in Florida, Jon made a happy return home to Illinois, working for another 5 years at several prominent Chicago cultural institutions before landing at Brookfield Zoo in 2016. With a M.S. in Natural Resources/Environmental Science and experience as a science educator and communicator, he has a passion for getting kids excited about science, wildlife, and conservation. He knows the importance of having the opportunity to have hands-on learning experiences ranging from headstarting caterpillars to making slime. This is Jon’s 2nd summer of Zoo Camp. In his free time, you’ll find Jon running obscene distances, watching the Twilight Zone, and tweeting about crocodiles.

Luisa Sawyer, Lead CounselorLuisa Sawyer, Lead Counselor

Need to ask an animal enthusiast? Just go to Luisa! With a B.S in Wildlife Conservation and an M.Ed in Secondary Science Education, her goal is to share her passion for science and the natural world, and encourage kids to discover the fun all around them. With over 8 years of camp experience and a work history that involves the Smithsonian, the Audubon Zoo, and genetics laboratories in Brazil, she brings the camp and science wonderment for the 2nd year as Lead Counselor at Brookfield Zoo. In her spare time, Luisa adores being outside, exploring the city of Chicago, the nature trails and parks close by, and rock climbing in the gym on rainy days. She is also obsessed with riddles and games, and is up for any challenge! She can’t wait to welcome all to Zoo Camp 2017!

Colin White, Lead CounselorColin White, Lead Counselor

A recent graduate of Southern Illinois University, Colin returns to Zoo Camp to start his 5th year with the program and 2nd as Lead Counselor. With experience as a Zoo Camp counselor himself, a Play Partner at Hamill Family Play Zoo, and armed with a B.S. in Education, Colin looks to continue the success, fun, and adventure Zoo Camp provides. He has a passion for working with children, instilling learning, and igniting excitement about play, animals, and conservation leadership. When not at camp, Colin can be found being physically active, shoe and sneaker hunting, reading about history, or sleeping like a lion. It is Colin’s pleasure to welcome you to another thrilling summer at Zoo Camp!

Taylor Richier, Camp Inclusion SpecialistTaylor Richier, Camp Inclusion Specialist

We are fortunate to partner with the National Inclusion Project, a program that helps benefit Zoo Campers of varying abilities, including but not limited to: physical disabilities, autism, sensory processing disorders, and attention deficit disorders. We are pleased to have on our staff, Taylor Richier, an Inclusion Specialist whose role is to support our Counselor staff in providing inclusive experiences and making sure the Zoo is for all campers! To learn more about ways we support campers with disabilities, read more here. To discuss specific accommodations for your child, please give us a call at 708-688-8342 and we’d be happy to discuss how your child can best be supported this summer!

Taylor is currently a senior at Northern Illinois University studying Health Sciences with an emphasis in Rehabilitation Services and a minor in psychology. This is Taylor's second year with Zoo Camp and brings over 7 years of experience from his volunteering and working with individuals with disabilities ranging in age from 3 to adult in a variety settings including Special Olympics, special recreation associations, and special education classrooms. In his free time, he is interested in music, art, and science and has two pet rats named Basil and Parsley.

Cory Wilcox, Customer Service RepresentativeCory Wilcox, Customer Service Representative

If you've ever e-mailed or called our office, you've probably spoken with Cory before! With a B.S. in Business Administration and an M.A. in Biology, Cory brings business and nature together. During her 6 years at Brookfield Zoo, Cory has worked in a variety of capacities including in the Membership and Merchandise departments. In her free time, Cory enjoys raising Monarch butterflies, traveling, and re-creating Pinterest crafts. Bringing her customer service skills to the Camp team in 2013, Cory's job is to maintain all of the registrations for Zoo Camp as well as many of our other classes and programs. Cory also provides office support to the rest of the Zoo Camp team. Most of her work takes place behind the scenes, but you can always find her on Monday mornings during Camp season at the Zoo Camp merchandise table inside the Discovery Center lobby. If you ever have a question about Zoo Camp, she's here to help! You can reach her on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 708-688-8342 or by email at adventuresinlearning@czs.org


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Have questions?
Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact the Education Department at adventuresinlearning@czs.org!

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We are proud to partner with the National Inclusion Project to benefit Zoo Campers with special needs, including physical disabilities, autism, sensory processing disorders, and attention deficit disorders.