Coding in the Lion’s Den

Earlier this month, I was invited to visit the Mountain Lion Foundation. Not really paying much attention to the word “Foundation,” I immediately thought I would get to see some lions. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Although there was no lion petting, I did enjoy my time learning about the organization, as well as hearing all about 11th grade intern Tim Gorham’s project.

The Mountain Lion Foundation is a national non-profit organization that protects mountain lions and their habitat. Tim plays a highly important role in making sure access to information, so that more of us can help preserve and protect our feline friends and their environment, is only a click of a button away. Tim began his internship at the foundation mid January of 2017, and has been working on a project ever since.

Tim’s project is not easy for someone like me, who knows nothing about coding, to understand. All that computer talk confuses me. But for Tim, it’s a regular day at the office. His project is to edit and create new websites that are state specific. You read that right! A website for each U.S. state. Every state has its own laws and regulations when it comes to protecting mountain lions, as well as current events on the matter. This is a huge project, being that it involves a lot of coding, as well as a great deal of research. Esthetics, and overall accuracy are also involved in this massive project. When I asked Tim about coding, he put it in the simplest of terms, which I appreciated: “Code, in a way, is like a language that the computers speak. Coding is forming lines of code to tell computers to do things and how exactly you want it done.” Well, now I get it!

Not only is his project beneficial to the Mountain Lion Foundation and the community at large, including the lions, Tim really enjoys his internship. When asked about what he enjoys most, he responded, “I really enjoy the environment, the people, and fighting for this cause, but the part I enjoy most is the coding opportunity I’ve been given.”

Tim’s Tuesdays and Thursdays do not involve a teacher at the whiteboard talking about coding. Tim is in his office, coding. And while doing what he enjoys, he is also helping to raise awareness for the protection of mountain lions.  If I remember correctly, when I was Tim’s age, I was sitting at a desk listening to a teacher talk at me.  Many have asked me, and I’ve asked myself, “Where was the Met when I was a high school student?”

If you would like to visit the websites Tim has worked on, check out http://www.mountainlion.org/us/-us-portal.asp, and click on the different state flags. He anticipates the project will be complete in a few months.

Thank you, Tim, for taking time out to share your work!

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