Waco ISD zoo award

Terri Cox (from left), executive director of the Cameron Park Zoological & Botanical Society; Johnny Binder, deputy director of Cameron Park Zoo; Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon; and Connie Kassner, education curator at the zoo, pose with the Rise Award presented to the zoo by Waco ISD.

Cameron Park Zoo was the recipient of the Rise Award for Outstanding Community Partners presented by Waco Independent School District at its Oct. 24 meeting.

Waco ISD’s theme for the 2019-20 school year is “Rise.” The theme celebrates learning and growing as well as overcoming challenges and recognizes that no school district rises by itself. Each month, the district recognizes a community partner making a difference with the Rise Award for Outstanding Community Partners. In October the district recognized Cameron Park Zoo.

In its recognition, the district noted that the zoo is a valuable resource for Waco ISD students who participate in zoo programs both at the zoo and in schools. From field trips to behind-the-scenes tours and Zoo Snoozes, Waco ISD students are able to experience the zoo in a variety of immersive and educational ways.

Cameron Park Zoo educators also bring resources from the zoo to Waco ISD campuses, providing another engaging way for students to learn.

Cameron Park Zoo’s education department was recently invited by Twin Cities PBS Media and Education Department to work with it on “BRAINedu: A Window into the Brain/CEREBROedu: Una Ventana al Cerebro!,” which is a project funded by the National Institutes of Health providing Latino children between the ages of 10 to 13 and their families with hands-on and fun programming focused on neuroscience and the brain.

The zoo will receive a $3,000 mini grant to implement the program and have specially trained staff members presenting this program as one of the zoo’s summer camp curriculums and at a family fiesta at the zoo.

Cameron Park Zoo partnered with Twin Cities PBS two years ago when it was the only zoo in the U.S. to present Latina Sci-Girls education programming and a family fiesta. Cameron Park Zoo currently gives scheduled education programs to 26,000 students per year and holds 30-plus education days that zoo visitors can participate in each year.

As part of the zoo expansion approved by voters Nov. 5, the zoo will add a 17,000-square-foot education/veterinary complex that will provide classrooms and facilities to increase zoo education programming for McLennan County and beyond.

The new complex will utilize multimedia programs to allow students to watch and be a part of field research in other countries in this time zone, as well as to allow the zoo to host traveling exhibits, and to be a venue for scientific conferences.

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