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20 Questions - Posted June 24, 2011 noon
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photos by Shannon Richardson

Jenni Kinch

When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, one West Texas A&M biology senior recalls saying she wanted to work in a zoo. Within the last year, 22-year-old Jenni Kinch has made her childhood dream come true.

“When I was younger, I would go to the zoo on field trips and see how cool it is to see all these animals you don’t see in the wild,” Jenni recalls. “Sometimes I would get a glimpse of people behind the scenes and thought they were the coolest people. Now I’m one of them.”

After completing an internship at the Amarillo Zoo, Jenni joined the part-time staff as a zoo educator, teaching elementary school children about the wildlife.

“It’s a culmination of everything I want in a job and so far it’s been great,” Jenni says. “I get to have fun and play all day with animals and kids. It’s just so much fun to me.”

Jenni is in charge of the volunteer program to keep things tidy around the facility and shows school children around during field trips. In addition, Jenni visits local schools to present animals and teach the students about the wildlife.

“It’s really gratifying for me to know these kids go home with all these fun stories to tell their parents,” she says. “I get to teach the kids about the world they don’t know.”

Jenni says she hopes her presentations to the children help spark their interest to be a better person to the planet. “We realize that our first-hand interaction helps the animals we live with, whether you notice it or not. The little things help.”

Jenni credits her ability to work well with children to being a camp counselor while growing up in the Houston area.

“I help give kids another abstract classroom,” Jenni explains. “This helps connect them to science in another way. They get to learn when they don’t realize they’re learning and have fun doing it.”

On top of working at the zoo and waiting tables at night, Jenni is finishing up her last semester of school and is in the process of applying to graduate school.

“I’m still a college student,” Jenni says. “I’m still growing up.”

Spotlight Q&A

My celebrity crush is… Ryan Reynolds. I will definitely see “The Green Lantern.”

In an alternative life, I would have been…an Olympic gymnast. They are so talented and I love to watch them fly through the air.

The most famous or interesting person I have ever met is… Miley Cyrus and her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus. He gave me a turtle he found on the side of the road and named it Ted Nugent. Ted still lives in my parents’ backyard.

My favorite, most quotable movies are… the "Harry Potter" movies. I was a huge fan of the books when I was little and now the movies are great too!

If I were a character in a book, I would be… Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Eyre's “Pride and Prejudice.” She is a really strong woman who gets her happy ending (and it’s a great book).

The greatest piece of advice I've ever received was… from my dad. When my life gets crazy with two jobs and I get weighed down by school, I can hear him tell me to “just be still.” It always calms me down.

You may be surprised to know that… I am an identical twin. Her name is Jacki and yes, we look exactly alike. She is my best friend in the whole world.

I know every word to… the song “Hey Jude” by the Beatles.

Right now, I'm listening to… Jars of Clay.

My friends and family call me… Jenni, but my dad calls me Jenniwinnie.

My favorite meal to make from scratch is… Fajitas! But my boyfriend, Josh, makes them about 10 times better than I do.

If I had an open plane ticket to anywhere, I would go to…Australia so I could scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef.

My go-to stress reliever is… a good book and my two dogs. They are probably the cutest things in the world.

One my favorite childhood toys was… forts. I guess they aren't really toys but my sister and I would make forts all the time and create our own little world.

My favorite bad-for-me-food is… Puppy Chow. Not the dog food but the delicious conundrum of chocolaty and peanut buttery goodness.

My Facebook friend count is…633. I'm kind of out of touch with Facebook so I have no idea if that is a lot or a little.

I'm secretly addicted to… the TV series “Phineas and Ferb.” It’s really funny; those boys are crazy. I wish I had a summer like that.

If I had a time machine I would travel to… ancient Greece. It was such a romantic and heroic time.

by Kalani Gordon

A junior at UNT, Kalani is working toward a photojournalism degree. Kalani has been a Canyon resident for 18 years and in her spare time rock climbs and plays soccer.
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