Courses and Curriculum in Aquarium Science,
Zoo & Conservation Science Program

Students in the Zoo and Conservation Science Major may choose to enter the Aquarium Program at the end of their first year. During the second year, Aquarium and Zoo Students take the “Sophomore Practicum” at the Ohio Wildlife Center. Aquarium students also take “Introduction to Marine Science.” Subsequent course differences are that Aquarium Track students select courses in marine and freshwater ecology for their upper-level electives, and as juniors take Aquarium focused practicums. In the Aquarium practicums, students learn about aquarium systems at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Reef Systems Coral Farm, and by maintaining their own aquariums in the Otterbein lab. In the practicum they also prepare for certification tests in water quality and life support from Aquatic Animal Life Support Operators (AALSO). Aquarium practicums are also open to other zoo majors (space permitting).

Two noteworthy courses for Aquarium Students are SCUBA, which fulfills Otterbein’s LFW (Physical Education) requirement, and the May-term travel course to Belize. In this travel course, students will live on an island on the Belize Reef, learn reef ecology, and complete a small independent reef project.

Five Cardinalfish Experiences

Otterbein University has five immersive Cardinal Experiences : Opportunities intended to prepare students for their future careers and interests. The Aquarium Track has a similar set of goals for its students: our Cardinalfish Experiences.

  • Conservation and Community Engagement: Aquarium students are encouraged to help conserve ocean, river, and lake environments, and to make our community at-large appreciate the value of aquatic environments. Examples of activities include our Florida Reef Tract Clean-up Crew Project, local river clean-ups, and helping with our educational tanks, both on and off campus.​
  • Travel and Ecosystem Experiences: Students learn most by experiencing first-hand the natural systems they are studying. We offer travel courses to coral reefs and other aquatic environments, as well as encourage internships in global settings
  • Aquarium Internships: Complete an internship or professional experience and put your campus learning to work. Each year students intern with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Coral Reef Systems, and other local firms, and national aquariums.​
  • Taking the lead with an aquarium – you’re in charge: Students will have the opportunity to plan and execute a themed aquarium of their choosing. They will be the leader, life support giver, and trouble-shooter.​
  • Research Projects: Students are encouraged to use the tanks, and work with our various faculty on research projects with an aquatic focus. Research projects are available to all students, including Honors and Distinction projects for seniors.​
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