Literacy AmeriCorps Participants Help Out At Panther Ridge

The Literacy AmeriCorps team at Panther Ridge.

Panther Ridge Conservation Center in Loxahatchee Groves recently received some extra help from the members of Literacy AmeriCorps, a program connected to the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County.

The members, who have committed to a year of service, were helping with manual labor projects, such as installing and removing large sections of shade cloth designed to give the large exotic cats housed at Panther Ridge more privacy and shade.

“The cats are doing great and enjoying the cooler weather. We are up to 22 cats in total, representing 10 different species,” head keeper Sadie Ryan said. “We increased our species list by adding Zsa Zsa the Carpathian lynx this year.”

Panther Ridge doesn’t usually have volunteer projects for large groups, with the opportunities focusing more on docents and help with fundraising or events. This project took place shortly before the Twilight Hours program, which provides a chance for the public to see the exotic felines at night when they are most active. The next Twilight Hours event is set for Saturday, Feb. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m., and ticketed reservations are required in advance.

“The Literacy AmeriCorps team serves as tutors for struggling readers, mentors and graduation coaches for at-risk high school students and teachers providing English instruction and job employability skills to adults,” Literacy AmeriCorps Director Lorie Graham said. “The members also participate weekly in service projects to help schools, libraries and community organizations in various ways from gleaning to beach cleanups.”

Being able to pitch in for nonprofits like Panther Ridge gives members a chance to feel a direct impact of their hard work, while also helping organizations during tough times. For Panther Ridge, the cost of everything from medications to meat keeps rising, meaning extra support is always welcome.

There are other benefits for the Literacy AmeriCorps members as well.

“Members receive professional experience, career training and a stipend throughout the year. Upon successful completion of their service, members earn an education award that can be paid toward loans or education expenses,” Graham said.

Even though the service year has already begun, the program is currently recruiting new members who can serve in both part-time and full-time capacities. Applicants must be at least age 21 with some college credit or a degree. Typically, members are recent college graduates.

To learn more about the Literacy AmeriCorps program, visit or reach out to the director at

For those interested in visiting and supporting Panther Ridge, visit