The ongoing pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges and required much adjustment by all. It has especially impacted the way our world works, learns and plays.
But from struggle comes innovation. A core aspect of our mission is, of course, connecting children to the natural world through impactful education programming—an initiative that has continued full speed ahead since the pandemic reached our region in March.
We offer a myriad of programming for children of all ages and exceptionalities, traditionally conducted onsite at the Zoo in indoor or outdoor classrooms, so “business as usual” was not an option when the Zoo temporarily closed in the spring. Instead, our education team (virtually) banded together to conceptualize and implement “Be Outside with Brevard Zoo,” a nine-week series of animal-themed videos and educational resources offered to the public at no charge. This initiative allowed us to connect children and families to the Zoo while it was closed, giving them access to behind-the-scenes experiences, science lessons and inspiration for in-home activities.
Each year from June to August, we traditionally host hundreds of students at the Zoo for summer camps. Out of an abundance of caution (and due to the success of Be Outside with Brevard Zoo), we made the decision to transition summer camps to a virtual platform for the first time. Education staff engaged students in four-day sessions via Zoom, toting tablets all over the Zoo to give students unprecedented, up-close views of giraffe, sea turtles, lemurs, hyraxes and other amazing animals. Not only were we able to connect with students within our community, but also with families from 28 different states and three different countries!
In September, we began our fall and winter education programs, which included homeschool classes (for ages five and up), Zooper Kids (for ages 2–5), Reading Buddies (for third- and fifth-graders in Title I schools), Lagoon Quest (for fourth-grade students) and Zoo School (for fifth-graders in Title I schools). While many of these programs shifted to a virtual space, we began to offer select in-person sessions with limited attendance and increased safety protocols. We also introduced a Science with the Zoo program (for ages 12 and up), which virtually engages participants in real-life science lessons and demonstrates how we use science every day here at the Zoo.
Making the switch to virtual did not come without challenges, but it did allow us to give our participants up-close experiences that might not be possible otherwise, such as watching giraffe hoof-trimming session from underneath the viewing platform, getting a close look at Sea Turtle Healing Center patients or talking to our veterinary team.
Click here to learn more about all of our programs or to register.