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9/30/2014 - Beardsley Zoo’s education program gets national award

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo received top honors in its 2014 Education Award for the Conservation Discovery Corps education program.

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. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo received its Education Award in the category of institutions with budgets under $5 million.

“Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is taking the lead in science education,” said Jim Maddy, AZA president and chief executive officer. “Education is a high priority for Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, as well as for all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, and this award provides well-deserved national recognition for the Conservation Discovery Corps education program, which is helping to build the next generation of conservationists.”

“Award winning education programs like the Conservation Discovery Corps education program not only heighten awareness but also change lives,” said Rick Barongi, executive vice president of conservation at the Houston Zoo and chair of AZA’s Honors and Awards Committee. “This innovative program is a great example of the critical role that zoos and aquariums can play in enriching the quality of live in all segments of our communities.”

The Conservation Discovery Corps (CDC) is a citizen-science based conservation/education program for students in high school, ages 14 to 18. Students are provided applied wildlife conservation training in both zoo and field research. Students also obtain an inside perspective on the zoo and its species and gain experience in conservation education, public service and public speaking.

“Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is very proud of its Conservation Discovery Corps,” said Gregg Dancho, director of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. “Over the Zoo’s history, we have had many educational programs for children yet we feel this program for high school students is essential in providing students with first-hand experience and insight into conservation and environmental programming that may shape their college planning and perhaps a lifelong vocation. To have these students from freshman to senior year, we witness their remarkable personal growth. They graduate as poised public speakers, ardent field conservationists, and talented educators. The leaders of tomorrow are truly at the zoo today. I really wish I had this program available to me when I was in high school.”