Archive: Detroit Zoological Society Receives Education Award

Association of Zoos & Aquariums recognizes science literacy program

October 2, 2018

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) received the 2018 Education Award for community engagement from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) on September 27 during its annual conference, held this year in Seattle. The award is bestowed annually upon AZA-accredited institutions for outstanding achievement in educational program design.

The DZS was recognized for its Celebrate Urban Backyards program, a partnership with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) in Dearborn. This partnership was created in collaboration with the Association of Science – Technology Centers through a grant awarded by the National Science Foundation.

“Celebrate Urban Backyards reflects our commitment to engaging the community with inspiring and innovative programs that build an understanding and appreciation of nature,” said DZS Executive Director and CEO Ron Kagan.

ACCESS is a community-based organization that facilitates after-school programming at 25 locations in the Dearborn area. The DZS developed a pilot program at Salina Intermediate School to build science literacy and environmental awareness. The program was designed to empower the students to see themselves as scientists through hands-on inquiry experiments, project-based learning and citizen science opportunities.

“Most of the students in these after-school programs come from households of first- or second-generation immigrants – they’re adapting to life in the United States and have varying comfort levels with speaking English,” said ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber. “Our ability to assist, improve and empower those in need rests with the support of the community, and we’re grateful for this extraordinary partnership with the Detroit Zoological Society.”

Education programs in contention for this award were judged on their ability to promote conservation knowledge, attitudes and behavior, show innovation and measure success.

“AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are gateways through which millions of visitors learn about and value the natural world,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “By sharing their knowledge and passion for wildlife through the Celebrate Urban Backyards program, Detroit Zoological Society educators are inspiring the next generation of conservationists.”

The AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the U.S. and seven other countries; there are currently 232 accredited institutions, including the Detroit Zoo, which has been continuously accredited since 1985. The AZA is dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and recreation.