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Meerkats eat almost anything. They love bugs, watermelon, cat food treats, bones, and frozen fruit.
Silver Spring, Maryland – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that the Potter Park Zoo has been awarded Top Honors for the 2012 Education Award for the BIG Zoo Lesson. The AZA Education Award recognizes outstanding achievement in educational program design, judging programs on their ability to promote conservation knowledge, attitudes and behavior, show innovation, and measure success. The Potter Park Zoo received its Education Award in the category of institutions with budgets under $5 million.
“The Potter Park Zoo is taking the lead in science education,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “Education is a high priority for the Potter Park Zoo, as well as for all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, and this award provides well-deserved national recognition.”
Talking with wildlife experts, observing animal behaviors, and researching animals from all over the world are parts of the BIG Zoo Lesson. Students, teachers, and parents in mid-Michigan use the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing as their classroom for week-long, in-depth learning, connecting science learning with the real world setting of the zoo. Initiated by Michigan Teacher of the Year 2000 Margaret Holtschlag and administered by the Potter Park Zoo, BIG Zoo Lesson is an interdisciplinary, problem-based approach to teaching and learning and an innovative tool for learning conservation and developing sensitivity to the natural world. Teachers bring their students to the zoo for a full week for lessons with docents and zookeepers, daily animal observations, and cooperative research. Since the inception of this program in 2000, more than 12,000 students, 441 classes and thousands of parents have experienced a full week of immersion learning and created lifelong memories at the Potter Park Zoo.
“The BIG Zoo Lesson brings constant excitement to Potter Park Zoo,” said Sherrie Graham, Director of the Potter Park Zoo. “Each Monday we see a new group of students, teachers and parents arriving full of anticipation and wide-eyed wonder, eager to see and learn about the zoo. Passing through the halls and classrooms throughout the week there is evidence of unique learning opportunities and ongoing curiosity everywhere. By Friday they’ve become part of our zoo. The knowledge they’ve gained and the memories they’ve made will not only last a lifetime, but their appreciation for the conservation of wildlife will surely enhance the society in which we live.”
The AZA Honors and Awards program recognizes exceptional accomplishments in the zoo and aquarium profession. Each category is reviewed by a panel of expert peers, and winners are announced annually every September.
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. To learn more visit www.aza.org.