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Miami and Cincinnati Zoo launch ‘Earth Expeditions’

A partnership between the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s education department and Miami’s Project Dragonfly will give K-12 teachers the opportunity to experience field research in Namibia, Costa Rica or Trinidad. Sixty teachers will be selected to participate next summer in the new Earth Expedition program, where they will take part in the zoo’s overseas conservation field efforts.

In fall 2004 an additional 60 teachers will participate in three workshops that will be conducted at the zoo. Participants will earn graduate credit for their coursework.

"This partnership program combines the strengths of world-class zoo conservation research with Project Dragonfly’s inquiry-driven teacher programs," said Christopher Myers, principal investigator of the program, professor of interdisciplinary studies and director of Project Dragonfly. "Teachers will have the opportunity to take part in such vital projects as cheetah conservation and the reintroduction of blue-and-gold macaws to the wild. The Earth Expeditions class of 2004 will pioneer an exciting new approach to professional development."

With tuition fees waived, the overseas field courses will only cost teachers $475 plus airfare and will earn them seven graduate credits. The three-credit zoo courses will cost $125.

The teachers will also participate in semesterlong online learning communities through Dragonfly Workshops, a four-year-old program of in-person training, friendly online discussions, a "lesson incubator" and shared data, connecting teachers to ideas and to each other locally and internationally.

"The importance of education in any effort to save species and the ecosystem in which they live cannot be overlooked," says Dave Jenike, director of education at the zoo. "This program will not only link educators and conservationists, it will link cultures and people dedicated to leaving this world biologically richer than the way we found it." Also, "Because of Earth Expeditions, teachers will see firsthand how science is used to save species and then share that experience with their students."

Project Dragonfly is a nine-year-old Miami program promoting children’s science investigation. It earlier included a magazine of discovery and now includes the DragonflyTV series, airing in its second year on PBS stations nationwide.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is consistently ranked as one of the top zoos in the country. Opened in 1875, it is the nation’s second oldest zoo and a national historic landmark. This not-for-profit entity is internationally known for its success in the protection and propagation of endangered animals and plants and engages in research and conservation projects around the world.

More information on the zoo and Dragonfly can be found at www.cincinnatizoo.org and at www. dragonflyworkshops.org.

2004 Field course topics:
• Environmental education in Trinidad: June 1-20
• Neotropical ecology in Costa Rica: July 7-16
• Great cat conservation in Namibia: July 28-Aug. 8

Zoo-based courses:
Sept. 13-Dec. 5
• Primate behavior and conservation
• Adaptation and evolution
• Plants and children
Teachers may apply for the Earth Expedition courses at www.earthexpeditions.org.

Date Published: 12/04/2003
Volume: 23   Number: 17

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