Program Funded by Connecticut State Department of Education Will Teach the Benefits of Farming, Gardening and Fresh Food
Zoo educators, along with teen volunteers from the Zoo’s Conservation Discovery Corps and Zoo Career Explorers, Zoo docents and gardeners, Green Village Initiative educators, and special guest presenters, will present interactive activities, demonstrations, and visits with animals five days a week at kiosks around the Zoo. The kiosk activities will include topics such as how owls and other raptors protect farmland from rodents; endangered heritage livestock breeds; the benefits of snakes, butterflies, bees, and other insects; the history of urban gardening and farming in Bridgeport; composting; and raising backyard chickens.
“Great things happen when you work with great people. In partnering with CES and GVI, we’re doing just that. We’re excited to combine our skills and expertise to deliver outstanding summer programming for all of Connecticut,” said the Zoo’s Curator of Education Jim Knox.
The Zoo’s renovated New England Farmyard officially opens to the public on Saturday, June 12, and will be the site of many of the farm-based educational activities. The FFT program is especially vital now due to the economic and educational disruptions caused by the pandemic, which were felt more intensely in urban and low-income areas that already had limited access to healthy food choices. The activities at the Zoo centered around the benefits of fresh, healthy food will emphasize how individuals and families can build whole foods into the core of their diet.
The timing of FFT coincides with the state’s proposed Connecticut Free for Kids initiative, which allows children under 18 and one adult to visit the Zoo and other sites throughout the state for free from July 1 through September 6.
CES will help to promote FFT to thousands of students and families in Greater Bridgeport, provide professional resources throughout the summer, and observe and collect feedback on FFT’s effectiveness. Dr. Lori Elliott, the incoming CES Director of Professional Development Services, will coordinate the agency’s participation and support of work at the Zoo this summer.
“Our ability to support community initiatives that will serve thousands of children is consistent with our mission and we are happy to be part of this work,” said CES Executive Director Dr. Charles Dumais. CES is one of the six Regional Educational Service Centers established by the state legislature to support public school districts. Dumais is also an executive member of the Zoo’s Board of Directors, which gives him “first-hand insight into the amazing work done at the Zoo.”
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo appreciates the support it receives from local, regional and national media outlets. Media representatives are invited to tour