Mindful Metropolis July 2011 : Page 8

did you hear? Brookfield Zoo & Climate Literacy Zoo visitors can participate in one of the biggest climate change awareness surveys in U.S. history The Brookfield Zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness exhibit features three separate habitats for one of the most visible victims of climate change. By daisy simmons This summer, a trip to the Brookfield Zoo could have you participating in one of the biggest climate change awareness surveys in U.S. history—and, in turn, helping zoos and aquariums learn how to better engage millions of visitors on environmental issues. That’s because the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) has organized a coalition of 15 zoos and aquariums across the country to participate in the Climate Literacy Initiative, from Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo (managed by CZS) and Shedd Aquarium to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Recently awarded a $1 million planning grant by the National Science Foundation’s Climate Change Education Program, the Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network (CliZEN) launched its planning phase this spring, highlighted by the coalition-wide rollout of summertime surveys that will help the network’s climate scientists, psycholo-gists, educators and learning scientists come up with new ways to use their organizations’ considerable reach (the Brookfield Zoo at-tracts 2.3 million visitors annually to connect with the public on climate change issues. According to Dr. Alejandro Grajal, senior vice president of conservation and educa-tion at CZS, CliZEN’s goal in conducting the surveys is, “to understand how differ-ent segments of the population understand climate change, based on the premise that zoo visitors will actually make decisions and engage in activities that they feel are useful or helpful to their favorite animals.” For now, that means starting off with conversations about the ever-popular polar bear. “It’s easy for people to understand that melting ice will have a significant impact on polar bears,” says Grajal. “But there’s truly no limitation to the kind of animal we can use to talk about climate change.” He explains that in many cases, for example, it may be just as illuminating to frame the conversa-tion around frogs, reptiles or freshwater fish. Once the survey results are in and ana-lyzed, CliZEN strategists will be able to begin developing a long-term strategic im-plementation plan that introduces more di-verse animals and angles into the dialogue, tailoring specific environmental education programs to each segment of the visiting population. In the meantime, youth interpreters are already working to promote climate change awareness to Brookfield Zoo visitors. This summer, 120 students are participating in the Youth Conservation & Science Leader-ship Program, which recently added public outreach and conversation on the topic of global warming to its list of student projects. So, stay tuned on your next trip to the zoo or aquarium: You may be randomly selected to participate in a survey or conversation that could help cultural institutions across the country make important and proactive chang-es in the way the public views climate change. Freelance writer Daisy Simmons is always on the lookout for interesting, positive Chicago news. Got any stories you’d like to share? Drop her a line at daisysimmons.com. 8 july 2011

Did You Hear?

Daisy Simmons

This summer, A trip to the Brookfield Zoo could have you participating in one of the biggest climate change awareness surveys in U.S. history—and,in turn, helping zoos and aquariums learn how to better engage millions of visitors on environmental issues.<br /> <br /> That’s because the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) has organized a coalition of 15 zoos and aquariums across the country to participate in the Climate Literacy Initiative, from Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo (managed by CZS) and Shedd Aquarium to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.<br /> <br /> Recently awarded a $1 million planning grant by the National Science Foundation’s Climate Change Education Program, the Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network (CliZEN) launched its planning phase this spring, highlighted by the coalition-wide rollout of summertime surveys that will help the network’s climate scientists, psychologists, educators and learning scientists come up with new ways to use their organizations’ considerable reach (the Brookfield Zoo attracts 2. 3 million visitors annually to connect with the public on climate change issues.<br /> <br /> According to Dr.Alejandro Grajal, senior vice president of conservation and education at CZS, CliZEN’s goal in conducting the surveys is, “to understand how different segments of the population understand climate change, based on the premise that zoo visitors will actually make decisions and engage in activities that they feel are useful or helpful to their favorite animals.” For now, that means starting off with conversations about the ever-popular polar bear.<br /> <br /> “It’s easy for people to understand that melting ice will have a significant impact on polar bears,” says Grajal.“But there’s truly no limitation to the kind of animal we can use to talk about climate change.” He explains that in many cases, for example,it may be just as illuminating to frame the conversation around frogs, reptiles or freshwater fish.<br /> <br /> Once the survey results are in and analyzed,CliZEN strategists will be able to begin developing a long-term strategic implementation Plan that introduces more diverse animals and angles into the dialogue, tailoring specific environmental education programs to each segment of the visiting population.<br /> <br /> In the meantime, youth interpreters are already working to promote climate change awareness to Brookfield Zoo visitors.This summer, 120 students are participating in the Youth Conservation & Science Leadership Program, which recently added public outreach and conversation on the topic of global warming to its list of student projects.<br /> <br /> So, stay tuned on your next trip to the zoo or aquarium: You may be randomly selected to participate in a survey or conversation that could help cultural institutions across the country make important and proactive changes in the way the public views climate change.<br /> <br /> Freelance writer Daisy Simmons is always on the lookout for interesting, positive Chicago news. Got any stories you’d like to share? Drop her a line at daisysimmons.com

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