Our safari ranger team work with local schools and communities within the region on a daily basis; delivering workshops on a number of different topics and themes linked to the curriculum to educate and inspire the next generation to protect nature.
Last year our learning team started the POW (Protecting Our Wildlife) project. A programme that focused on bringing pupils closer to the wonderful wildlife found right here in the UK and what they can do to help protect it.
Over 1,500 pupils in 63 classes at 14 different schools were involved in the POW project and were visited by our team. Below, Anya Moon one of our safari rangers, tells us more about the project and what they got up to:
“The project was made up of five workshops that took place either in the classroom or at the zoo. The first two workshops were classroom based and provided the class with an introduction to UK wildlife, the different habitats, the different threats facing local species and providing more of an understanding on a variety of terms like native, non-invasive and invasive species.
“The third part was a visit to Chester Zoo, which were free and designed as a practical, standalone session. The fourth part was also a practical session, where we were supported by our fab Chester Zoo volunteers, back at the schools and involved a number of activities like wellie planting, bird watching and bug hotel building. These activities linked in with our Wildlife Connections campaign activities; benefitting local wildlife by creating safe spaces.
the visit to the zoo was excellent, but the children also enjoyed ‘getting their hands dirty’ planting their wellies! It’s hard to choose a best part!
“The children each produced a wooden pledge, making lovely displays in each of the schools and showcasing what they’d learnt over the workshops. The final workshop was quite different from previous workshops we’d delivered and involved choral speaking and a literacy element.
“The literacy activities were designed to link with the content of the workshops and use the material to create a poem. A drama practitioner was brought in, Emily Capstick, and using the literacy material she created an individual unique poem for each of the 63 classes.
“In most schools a celebration assembly was held where each class was able to perform their poem for the other classes and in some cases parents too; telling them all about the project, what they had learnt and perform the Wildlife Connections song.
“The POW programme was great – it was lovely to see the same classes over a period of time and for the pupils to get to know us, and look forward to us visiting. On top of that it was also nice to work with volunteers and other colleagues when the schools visited the zoo.
“The safari ranger team are really looking forward to getting stuck into our next POW project which will be linked to our Sing for Songbirds campaign. On top of this we will continue to analyse the data collected from the programme and follow up evaluation with the schools that took part. Another exciting project we’re doing is adapting the POW project to work for after school groups too.”
Chester Zoo’s repeat engagement outreach work was evaluated by our conservation social scientist, Andy Moss. The findings from the pilot project have recently been published, showing that in-school educational programmes increased the conservation knowledge and attitude in students.
Research from the POW project (which is due to be published later this year) found a significant and positive change in people’s attitude to protecting UK wildlife, their ability to help wildlife and to zoos saving animals from extinction. From the teachers who responded to our survey, over 91% of them think that they have personally also learnt about native species conservation as a result of their engagement with the programme.