Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and the Cahoon Elementary Magnet School of Animal Science have teamed up to provide students with a innovative, year-long program that will challenge children to strategize solutions regarding some of our world’s greatest conservation challenges. The project is called “Conservation Matters” and allows children to apply the abstract knowledge of Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science directly to real-life conservation challenges. The school’s Principal, Joanne
Griffiths, is eager to engage students in authentic animal science activities, “The project’s goal is to teach our students to design an action plan that will support conservation initiatives that are focused on animal rescue, habitat protection, and conservation education,” she said.
It’s an effort that Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is happy to support. Since its creation, the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has granted more than $8 million to protect wildlife and wild places. Shellie J. Kalmore, Busch Gardens Education Manager, is excited to help energize a new generation of problem solvers, “It lets kids know they have a voice and can make a difference,” she said. In fact, this is not the first time that Busch Gardens has teamed up with Cahoon Elementary in order to make a positive impact.
Last year a group of fourth and fifth graders created a multi-layered exploration into six different biomes, learning about Busch Garden’s worldwide conservation efforts, and behaviors that positively affect wildlife and the natural world. The experiment was a success – leading the school‘s educators to conceptualize ways to further integrate conservation awareness directly into the curriculum. This new initiative is the first of its kind and the Cahoon Elementary faculty is excited to set it into motion, “We had our staff come back early to engage in planning and lesson brainstorming,” said Resource Teacher Jane M. Wells.
In early August, teachers attended a kick off at Busch Gardens where they showcased some of their groundbreaking ideas for the new school year. After completing an Eco-Footprint Scavenger Hunt, educators engaged the visitors at the park in "Conservation Conversations" fanning the flames of their own passions for preserving nature’s precious resources. The fun-filled event proved that the project will enhance both teacher and student learning. “Busch Gardens is pleased to play an integral role in this effort by connecting students and teachers with on-going SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund projects,” adds Kalmore.
The Conservation Matters project is now underway at Cahoon Elementary and Principal Griffiths has the highest of hopes for the endeavor. “Our goal is to immerse our students in global biome studies so that they will become aware of the importance of their role in making a positive impact worldwide,” she said.