Posts Tagged With: nature

Arty for The Planet: Teens turn conservation into art

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Art met nature in a big way recently at the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo’s “Arty for The Planet” event honoring Earth Day. Fifteen young “Arty-ists,” along with Dallas Zoo staff members Jamiee Golden and Sina Ogunleye, created a sidewalk chalk crazy-quilt of nature art throughout the Children’s Zoo.

The theme was simple: what inspires you about nature? The artists responded with intricate scenes of sea life and endangered species, as well as a colorful, powerful message about the importance of bees. There were parrots and lions, flamingos and giraffes, pandas, tigers, and more. Zoo visitors as well as Zoo staff were wowed by the quality of the work.

“I was not only amazed at the sheer talent of our volunteer artists, but the effect their work had on our visitors,” said Melody Alcazar, Children’s Zoo supervisor. “A sense of calm blanketed the Children’s Zoo as guests explored the work of our gifted artists and even tried their hand at creating their own nature chalk art.”

IMG_3680Volunteer artists included Maddie Olson, Alix Burn, Anna Czyzewski, Zen White, Lauryn Shaffer, Gabriela Noriega, Emily Henderson, Maya Endsley, Brennan Nichols, Robert Swofford, Leah Lara and Shelby Linker from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts. They were joined by Cameron Johnson, Seena Berryman and Katarra Smelley from the Dallas Zoo Youth Volunteer Program, who came in on their day off to participate.

“The art was a conversation piece for the entire day for our zoo guests, and for us, too,” zookeeper Stephanie Evola said. “My personal favorite was the fennec fox [drawn by Dallas Zoo member Emily Henderson, who attends Arts Magnet]. It was so gorgeous and detailed. She even included the scientific name, Vulpes zerda.”

For Shannon Linton, educational supervisor for the Zoo’s Youth Volunteer Program, the event was gratifying on two levels.

“Arty for The Planet” was a perfect example of the Zoo’s mission, actions and animals coming together for a greater cause,” Linton said. “And to see Cameron and Seena, both of whom started out as junior zookeepers, mature into these young women making such a powerful impact on so many people with their artwork… It was just incredible.”

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Categories: Children's Zoo (Lacerte Family) | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Reinventing the natural world explorer

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Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo supervisor, Melody Wood, guest blogs on ZooHoo.

Splashing in a puddle. Building a snowman. Making a wish on a dandelion cast to the wind. Building a fort in the woods.

Momentous Institute teachers rediscover how to play.

Momentous Institute teachers rediscover how to play.

Most of us remember such moments from childhood. Unfortunately, memories like these are increasingly scarce for today’s children, who are trading authentic experiences for ones seen on a screen. But zoos and aquariums are stepping up to help reverse the trend of lost nature experiences.

Research has shown that zoological park visits promote an increased connection with nature, acting as a gateway to the wild world for millions of visitors every year.

With the help of a $10,000 grant, the Dallas Zoo is combatting couch-potato syndrome.

Teachers made a weaving board from an old cereal box and items found in nature.

Teachers made a weaving board from an old cereal box and items found in nature.

We recently were awarded a “Nature Play Begins at Your Zoo & Aquarium” grant from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and The Walt Disney Co., one of just 30 zoos and aquariums chosen to receive this special funding, designed to get families outside, playing in nature.

We’ve used the grant to create a new program, WildFUN (Families United in Nature), to introduce urban, under-served families to unstructured nature play, both on Zoo grounds and in community parks.

Facilitators from the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo recently flew south to lead staff from the Dallas Zoo’s Children’s Zoo, Education Department, and teachers from our program partner, Momentous Institute, in a three-day nature play training workshop called NatureStart.

NatureStart was designed as a training program for informal education professionals working with young children and their families at museums, zoos, aquariums, and nature centers. Participants rediscovered environmentally friendly ways to encourage children to care about the natural world and their role in it.

The Zoo has made a five-year commitment to work with pre-K children and their families at the Momentous Institute, a private school where 80 percent of students come from low-income families. At the end of the first year, the WildFUN participating families will create their own Family Nature Club. The program will include trips to local parks, neighborhood green spaces and, of course, the Zoo.

Dallas Zoo and Momentous Institute NatureStart workshop participants.

Dallas Zoo and Momentous Institute NatureStart workshop participants.

Equipped with techniques and activities designed to encourage exploration and discovery, Dallas Zoo staff are now ready to encourage kids to jump, run, dance, and build their way to a play-based nature adventure.

 

Categories: Children's Zoo (Lacerte Family), Conservation, Education | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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