feature celebrating 30 years of learning beyond the classroom
The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo and Chevron Canada are celebrating 30 years of partnership through the Chevron Open Minds Zoo School program. Over the years, Zoo School has become a place where students from Grade 1 through Grade 12 are encouraged to engage with their teachers and educators, connect with nature, and get inspired while also building lifelong memories.
For over 90 years, the zoo has welcomed visitors of any age to connect with wildlife, learn about the challenges they face in the wild and discover what they can do to help. Chevron Open Minds Zoo School takes these opportunities to the next level, creating educational adventures and inspiring lessons that students will carry with them throughout the school year and beyond.
“By observing animals for a week during Zoo School, a student begins to develop wonder, empathy and concern for their wellbeing,” said Andrea Robinson, Zoo School coordinator at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. “The unique learning experiences they encounter during their week at the zoo build their environmental literacy today while also empowering them to become critical thinkers and global citizens – the conservation champions of tomorrow.”
The zoo was the flagship Open Minds site in Calgary. It all started when Don Harvie, a well-known Calgary philanthropist, dreamed of having a permanent school at the zoo. When Don met Gillian Kydd, a specialist with the Calgary Board of Education science team, and Angela Rokne, a Grade 3 teacher with the Calgary Board of Education, they turned his dream into a reality.
The concept was to dedicate a classroom to be used each week by a new class because, as Kydd believed, one week at the zoo could become a catalyst for year-long, and life-long, learning. Chevron Open Minds Zoo School is one of 11 sites that belong to the Calgary Campus Open Minds Program, stewarded by founding partners at Calgary Catholic School District, Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Foundation.
“Since 1993, Zoo School has welcomed nearly 21,000 students into a living classroom where they’re encouraged to slow down, grow and ask questions about animals with the guidance of wildlife and conservation experts,” said Jacqueline Harris, Social Risk & Investment advisor, Chevron Canada. “Through observation and inquiry within a new environment, they are able to build connections to a world beyond their classroom walls.”
Applications to participate in the Chevron Open Minds Zoo School for the 2023-2024 school year opened at the end of February 2023. The application deadline is May 10.
Together, Chevron Canada and the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo are primed to continue inspiring action to make the world a wilder place.