Encouraging Chicago Students to Be PRO-Wildlife
Taking place across the school year, Chicago Environmental Stewards helps educators incorporate environmental stewardship in the classroom. It focuses on encouraging students to be PRO-wildlife by taking three types of action: Protect, Restore and Observe.
This program is conducted with partner schools on school grounds, in neighborhood parks and at Lincoln Park Zoo, showing students the range of natural areas and urban wildlife they can find within city limits. Teachers may participate in the program with one to four classes of fifth grade students. Classes choose a stewardship action project to translate what they've learned in the program to their school. In 2016, every school chose to plant a native garden on school grounds, creating important habitat for urban wildlife in Chicago.
- Raise awareness of strategies for coexisting with urban wildlife.
- Increase environmental literacy among Chicago youth.
- Empower students to advocate for the environment to their younger peers.
- Support teachers in incorporating environmental stewardship in the classroom.
- Work with Chicago schools to promote environmental stewardship within communities.
Related Focuses: Engage Community Members in the Work of Zoo Researchers
In 2015, five elementary schools partnered with Lincoln Park Zoo to deliver this program to neighborhoods across Chicago. Partners include:
- Walter S. Christopher School
- Providence St Mel
- Ray Elementary School
- Woodlawn Community School
- Saint Angela School
The program will return to the same five schools in the 2016-17 school year, allowing for deeper exploration of gardens planted on school grounds.
In 2016, Lincoln Park Zoo also hosted a Chicago Environmental Stewards Spring Break Camp at Telpochcalli Elementary School. Twenty-four students attended the free, half-day camp to learn more about their urban environment over break. Schools or community partners interested in hosting a spring break camp in 2017 should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Chicago Environmental Stewards consists of five main program components:
Component 1: Professional Development Workshops
During these interactive workshops held at Lincoln Park Zoo, teachers receive orientation and training for the program, all necessary materials and time to collaborate with fellow participants.
Component 2: Stewardship Action Project
Each participating school pursues a stewardship action project unique to the surrounding community. The project is created through collaboration between the zoo educator, teacher, students and community members, in line with school interests and needs.
Component 3: Field Trips to Natural Areas
During these field trips, students connect with natural sites in Chicago and observe the wildlife that lives there. They can find inspiration from the natural world to help them design their stewardship action project.
Component 4: Classroom Visits
A zoo educator visits each school two times during the year to teach students about urban wildlife and to help them plan a stewardship project. Additional support is also provided via regular check-ins.
Component 5: Peer Advocacy Event
Fifth-grade students connect with students in a younger grade level (pre-K–4) to share their knowledge of environmental stewardship. This component involves collaboration with another teacher within the school. Each teacher has flexibility in determining the most successful type of action or event for their school.