Miami University’s Project Dragonfly turns 20, sees students advance careers

OXFORD — A master’s program at Miami University focused on engaging graduate students through global fields programs and earth expeditions is 20 years old this year.

Project Dragonfly launched in 1994 as a national magazine featuring children’s science investigations and discoveries. It evolved throughout the years as a program of Miami University courses combined with face-to-face experiential learning.

The program’s connection to the Cincinnati Zoo has seen more than 700 Cincinnati-area residents take Dragonfly courses directly involving learning at the zoo.

“Student engagement at our zoos is really the heart and soul of the Advanced Inquiry Program master’s,” said Jamie Anzano, director of communications and research for Project Dragonfly. “Our students are working professionals interested in changing careers or advancing, and this degree lets them do that.”

Some of Project Dragonfly’s partners include the African Conservation Centre, Audubon Miami Valley, the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, according to a news release from Miami University.

“We’re confident there is no other program like it,” said Kevin Matteson, associate director of the master’s programs. “A lot of the time we look to the future, so it’s nice to look back every now and then and celebrate where we’ve been.”

Project Dragonfly involves students from all undergraduate degrees and backgrounds, and the program has graduated more than 2,200 worldwide, Miami officials said.

Thane Maynard, director of the zoo, praised the partnership for allowing students to gain a greater understanding of what conservation really takes.

“It gives them a very deep dive into big issues, whether it’s zoos or animals or around conservation,” Maynard said. “This is a part of people’s lives. It’s had an impact on these people and their careers and on the entire zoo field.”

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