Summer Teacher Workshops in Conservation Science 2013
The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, the largest zoo-based research team in the world, is dedicated to preserving and protecting rare and endangered wildlife and habitats and acknowledges that education and outreach form the cornerstones of any successful conservation endeavor. It was with these principles in mind that the Institute decided in 2006 to dedicate one of its six active research laboratories entirely to students, teachers, and members of the community. The Conservation Education Lab offers students from middle school to graduate school the opportunity to work firsthand with the tools and techniques used in conserving endangered species.
One of our proudest programs in the Conservation Education Division at the Institute is our summer workshops for middle school and high school life science teachers. It all began with a simple idea and 12 eager participants in the summer of 2006. The Institute for Conservation Research invited a dozen high school life science teachers from all over southern California to the Beckman Center for Conservation Research to experience a day in the life of a conservation biologist. The pilot program focused on the conservation history and recovery of the California condor and was designed to bring topics of conservation science into local classrooms. Just six years later, we have built a nationally recognized program with a stellar reputation for giving teachers access to information and experiences that no other conservation organization can. Thus far we have supported 428 middle and high school life science teachers from 36 states around the country. Our teacher guests are treated to three days in the Conservation Education Lab and two nights at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, engaging with staff members and acquiring new skills that prove invaluable back at their home campuses. Teachers that participate in this unique professional development opportunity learn how to frame content standards in the context of wildlife conservation and to challenge students to apply their textbook knowledge of biology and chemistry to issues in saving biodiversity. Feedback from our most valued critics, our teacher participants, has been overwhelmingly positive with comments like, “This year I will be much better prepared to implement genetics and biodiversity in hands-on, minds-on ways that will grab the students’ attention,” and “It was an amazing experience for me and has added so much to my teaching and passion for the subject of conservation.”
This unique opportunity, just for teachers, truly is a summer camp like no other. The program offers participating teachers a $500 stipend for full participation and all workshop room and board is included. Interested high school and middle school life science teachers from around the nation are encouraged to download the application packet and apply. This year, 2013, we are offering up to three high school workshops and two middle school workshops.