Local High School Student is Saving Wildlife, One Bottle of Water at a Time

This blog is written by Carolyn Jess, a high school student who helped us out as a guest blogger from 2013-2016 with a focus on native wildlife. Carolyn reached out to the Houston Zoo last year for advice on installing a water bottle refill station. Read on for her successes.

My high school is BIG. We are a 6A school with around 2,400 students and 250 teachers. We excel at many things – we have tons of school pride, great love for one another, and a strong desire to help others every chance we get…but the one thing we are really good at? Recycling. Most of our classrooms have gone paperless, but recycling bins are abundant for those that still need paper. In fact, there are recycling bins everywhere you look – we all know where the big green recycling bins are should we need them, and everyone recycles their plastic water bottles in a specially made bin. We know how to recycle.

But recently, I started thinking, are we too good at it? Is that even possible? It seems like our recycling bins are always filled to the brim, and in some cases overflowing. Plastic bottles will spill out, and despite the dedication of the recycling team and custodians, excess bottles end up in the trash. Plenty of students bring their own refillable bottle, but the fountains on campus are not built to easily refill a bottle. Students stand awkwardly at the fountain trying to hold the bottle at the right angle, and most can only get the bottle filled halfway before they have to rush off in order to beat the tardy bell. As a result, many of the students who try to do the right thing end up retiring their reusable bottles and resort to using the throw away kind since they are a faster and easier option. At the rate we are going, with 2,400 students using 2 bottles a day, 5 days a week we are looking at 24,000 plastic bottles discarded EVERY WEEK.

Something needed to be done to fix our plastic problem, so I started researching refillable water bottle stations. I wasn’t sure about costs, installation, or maintenance, but after looking at various makes, models, and prices, I found a great online resource called becausewater.com. After reading their website, I made contact with them and our question and answer session began. They offered so much assistance when it came to choosing the right model for my campus and figuring out the associated costs. Once I knew my options, I typed up a proposal and timeline for my school principle. I scheduled a meeting with her and explained what exactly it was that I wanted to do and how I would go about getting a unit installed.

It took a little while, but I finally got the go ahead to start fundraising to pay for the unit! With the help of my student council, we will have 3 fundraisers during the upcoming school year and use some of our homecoming dance proceeds to pay for the unit. The principal has decided to match our efforts – If we can raise the funds to buy and install one station on our main campus, she will get one and have it installed on our freshman campus. We will get the district’s maintenance staff to install the unit to cut down on costs, and I will be on hand to help with the instillation process as much as I am allowed. Once the unit is installed, I know our students and staff will be excited to start filling up their bottles with ease, plus it will be fun for them to see the counter at the top of the fountain showing how they are minimizing plastic waste in our environment! I am a senior this year and want to leave my school knowing that I was able to take action to help our environment and our local wildlife.

My campus is big, and it has a big heart. I hope that there is a student next year, that continues with this plan and installs another unit, and another, until all our fountains have the water bottle refill option. With these small steps come big results, 2400 times two times five, to be exact. Taking action like this leads to helping our animals in the wild, one plastic bottle at a time.

Zoo Crew Teen Reflects on Saving Wildlife Experience

This blog was written by Skyler Nix, a Zoo Crew member who participated in one of the Zoo’s Adventure Programs. Through these programs, teens explore natural areas in Texas and participate in outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking, camping, etc. as well as participating in conservation projects such as beach clean-ups and habitat restoration. 

Our sea lion family has grown over the past few years with the birth of two pups, Tj and Max. It takes quite a lot of effort, as well as time, to train, feed, monitor, and care for these now five sea lions in addition to conducting keeper chats and engaging with zoo guests. On top of all of this, the sea lion staff work additional hours to help keep our oceans clean for wildlife right here in Texas.

The Sea lion staff assists with a fishing line recycling program that aims to diminish the quantity of monofilament line on the Surfside Jetty in Surfside, Texas. This program was organized by NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) together with Texas A&M University’s Monofilament & Recycling Program. Monofilament line is endangering wildlife such as sea turtles, fish, rays, dolphins, birds, and sea lions because it can snare and entangle animals, making it difficult and sometimes even impossible to for them to swim, fly, or find food. Our sea lion staff manages monthly clean ups on the Surfside Jetty to empty the monofilament bins as well as to collect trash, recyclables, and line caught in between rocks. In addition, these trips also provide Zoo staff, volunteers, and teens opportunities to get out in nature and take action to save wildlife.

A few weeks ago on April 21, a group of eight teens and myself were given the opportunity to travel, under the supervision of Zoo staff, to the Surfside Jetty and assist in the recycling project. We arrived early in the morning that Saturday full of excitement and ready to get to work. After meeting up with the sea lion staff on the jetty, we headed back to their truck to gear up. We equipped ourselves with gloves, trash pickers, nail clippers (great for cutting line), and buckets. We split into three groups to cover as much ground as possible – the sea lion staff at the far side of the jetty, half of the teens on the beach, and the other half covered the center.  My group was determined to get every piece of trash spotted; even if it meant getting knocked and drenched by oncoming waves. We made great progress, consistently emptying out our buckets into trash bags.

About half way through the day, we stopped for lunch. We sat together at a picnic table near the jetty, ate our lunches, refilled our water bottles, and shared our progress. What happened next will forever influence my life. A gust of wind passed over our table, and seamlessly, a plastic bag was lifted into the air and flew away (we later found the bag and properly disposed of it). It made me realize how easily trash can make its way into the ocean. Nearly 4.8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean each year; 91% of plastic isn’t recycled; every minute, a garbage truck of plastic is dumped into the oceans.  The majority of trash doesn’t start in the ocean; is starts when you decide to throw away a plastic bottle instead of recycling it. It then makes its way to a landfill, then, by wind or water, it will make its way into the ocean.

After we finished lunch and refilled our water bottles, we went back to work. This time we covered the rest of the beach and the backside of the jetty. Though we only spent an hour or so there, we got the most trash; nearly twice as much as in the center of the jetty. Plastic plates, styrofoam cups, plastic wrappers, soda cans, water bottles- all every day items we use, yet, we never really consider the consequences of not recycling these items – the consequences wildlife have to pay.

Though the day was rather daunting, in the end I felt that day was a learning experience, and I’m sure the rest of the teens I spent the day with would agree. One of the teens, Claire, couldn’t believe how never ending the trash seemed. Other teens, like Nicole and Mia, found it crazy how random items like shoes and toothbrushes made it all the way to the jetty. Hannah found a coke bottle, dated from 22 years ago (1996)! This was an overall amazing trip for me; I made new friends and helped the environment, that’s a win-win for me.

By the end of the day, we had collected 3 pounds of monofilament line (which is insane considering how light it is), 65 pounds of trash, and 58 pounds of recyclables. The line and recyclables were brought back to the zoo to be sorted and eventually recycled.

There are three things I do every day in my life that help animals in the wild that you can do too! I use a reusable water bottle, recycle, and reuse everyday items to make eco-friendly alternatives to things like plastic. For example, you can easily turn an old shirt into a new reusable bag. Since this trip allowed me to experience the effects plastic pollution has on the environment first hand, it makes me feel accomplished to know that I have kept trash out of the ocean by doing those 3 simple things.

Here are some other things you can do to help save animals in the wild!

  • Using reusable bags and water bottles instead of plastic, which can end up in the ocean causing harm to animals. The Houston Zoo is now plastic bag and plastic water bottle free!
  • If you fish, dispose of your used line in monofilament bins located along the coast at popular fishing spots – this will help to ensure that fishing line does not make its way back into the water, and can be recycled into new products
  • Pick up trash on daily walks or trips to the beach to help reduce the amount of debris that could make its way into our oceans!
  • Report any sea turtles on the beach to NOAA biologists at 1-866-TURTLE-5
  • Visit the Zoo! The fee you pay to visit the Zoo goes towards saving animals in the wild!

The next time you visit the Zoo, make sure to stop by the sea lion pool and say hi to Max, Tj, Cali, Kamia, and Jonah for me, and don’t forget to take a look at the Marine Debris Wall on the deck! Interested in going on a trip similar to mine? Click here to register for a Teen Adventure Program!


The Art of Plastic Reduction to Save Wildlife at Carnegie Vanguard High School

This blog was co-authored by Cason Hancock, a senior at Carnegie Vanguard High School.

In recent months, reports on the harmful effects of single-use plastics for both humans and wildlife have gone viral in the news and on social media. The news for many comes as no surprise, but the lingering question remains – what can we do about it? Here at home, students at one local high school saw the need for change, and challenged themselves to find a solution, with the hope of  inspiring their community to do the same. The Student Conservation Association (SCA), in partnership with Carnegie Vanguard High School (CVHS), received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do something incredible and they delivered: the reduction of single-use plastics on Carnegie Vanguard’s campus and increased knowledge of the region’s waterways.

SCA and CVHS approached the grant from a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) perspective. With the EPA funding, every student and staff member received a reusable water bottle, 4 water bottle filling stations were installed on campus, 640 high school students received education about local waterways, 100 CVHS students participated in hands-on conservation experiences, 150 elementary and middle school students received programming about the health of waterways, and CVHS designed and built an Art Car as part of the outreach on single-use plastic reduction. Partners throughout the grant included Galveston Bay Foundation, Bayou Preservation Association, Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, the CVHS Parent Teacher Organization, and Houston-Galveston Area Council. The most visible part of this project was the construction of the Art Car. Generously donated by a parent, the Nissan Maxima was transformed with a hand-painted coral reef mural and 3D sea creatures. The picturesque scene was threatened by a wave of plastic bottles crashing ashore. The wave was built from the collected plastic water bottles on campus and the car’s 3D turtle gets its body from the bottle caps collected. This message on wheels was presented to the local community in Houston as it competed in the 31st Art Car Parade. Amanda Feldman, a senior at CVHS reflected on the experience of showcasing the vehicle to 250,000 Houstonians: “Working on the art car was a fun experience and knowing that the car would make an impact made all of the work worth it. With the Art Car Parade being so popular, I know a lot of people were exposed to the idea of single-use plastic reduction and I hope it has impacted them”. 

Post Parade, the art car is back on the high school’s campus, surrounded by two model water bottles standing almost 7 feet tall that represent how much CVHS has reduced their consumption of  single-use plastic bottles. Since the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, students and faculty on campus have reduced their consumption of plastic bottles by almost 43% compared to the numbers recorded during the 2016-2017 school year. The team of students that spearheaded this initiative concluded that the decrease was largely due to the instillation of water-refill stations and the distribution of reusable water bottles to the student body. The introduction of these alternatives to single use plastic bottles also raised awareness as to how one small action can make a huge difference. From senior Ernie Vita’s perspective, “there are many things in life that are hard to change, but reducing single-use plastics is not one of these. And in making the change, there is a large scale impact without sacrificing much.” 

The Houston Zoo has also committed to reducing its consumption of single-use plastics, having gone plastic bag and bottle free in order to save wildlife like sea turtles and pelicans that often encounter plastic debris that has traveled downstream and ended up in the ocean. There are water bottle filling stations located zoo-wide, so on your next visit, we encourage you to join the wildlife saving movement by bringing your own reusable water bottle! As we continue to eliminate the need for single-use plastics on zoo grounds, Carnegie Vanguard High School says the water bottle filling stations, recycling bins, and push for single-use plastic reduction will remain on campus with the hope of a greener, more wildlife friendly, plastic-free school.



Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Talks Zoo Crew

Carolyn-Jess-2014-ResizeWe have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2016 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a high school student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. Carolyn was awarded the Alban Heiser Conservation Award in 2014, presented to her by Jack Hanna. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

Each year, I can’t wait for applications to open up for Zoo Crew. If you’re not sure what Zoo Crew is, it is a summer volunteer program at the Zoo for students 13-17 years old.

I have a few volunteer experiences outside of Zoo Crew. I am currently a member of Brazoswood Student Council and on the Pride and Patriotism Committee. Every Wednesday evening and some Saturdays, I volunteer by making teacher gifts, decorate the hallways for upcoming events, or make inspirational posters for the hallways. I also volunteer as a mentor for our Junior Naturalist program for US Fish and Wildlife. I led a group of Junior Naturalist for plant identification at the introductory meeting and help where I am needed. I also write blogs (like this one!) for the Houston Zoo.

Volunteering is important to me, and I am ready for the daily tasks and challenges of Zoo Crew. I know there is always something different every day that pops up to make my job even more interesting than the day before! Making good decisions and motivating others is a big part of Zoo Crew, and also helps me to be a great leader.

For those that are nervous about applying to Zoo Crew, I don’t feel that there has been an extremely challenging part of the program, so don’t be scared!. I have always learned something new in my time at Zoo Crew, whether is was in Theatrical Interpretation or the bird section, and that is the reason why I volunteer. I want to gain as much knowledge about the Zoo as I can and I know that Zoo Crew is the way to gain that information.

Zoo Crew Group Photo!

By returning to Zoo Crew, I am hoping to get a better idea of my career path in zoology. I know that I want to study zoology, but I’m not sure yet what exactly I want to do. I am hoping that by working Zoo Crew, I can better figure out what I want to do in the zoology field. There are so many different areas and departments of the Zoo that you get to see during Zoo Crew, which is great if you are also interested in working with animals.

One reason that I am so excited about the 2016 Summer Zoo Crew Program is because my heart is in the Zoo. Working with the people and animals at the Zoo is my passion. It represents so much more than families coming out to have a fun day. The Zoo represents a world of causes, like recycling phones, educating the public about problems like palm oil, and saving animals all over the world. I want to be a part of that action and Zoo Crew is another way for me to be closer to what is important to me!

You can apply for Zoo Crew here! Better hurry, applications close 2/29!

Saving Wildlife with Robotics!

The Houston Zoo cares about animals in the wild and is working within our global community to help wildlife. There are many ways to affect wildlife, and we work with all types of groups that are using innovative and effective ways to keep our world healthy for all of its inhabitants.seaturtle_DK

Something that all of our friends, groups, partners, and even visitors have in common is trash, plastics in particular…but what does that have to do with saving wildlife? Our wild animals come into contact with a lot of our trash; our friends in Africa have seen giant elephants grab plastic bags that are tangled in grasses thinking that it’s food, and our local friends in Galveston have seen our Texas sea turtles eat plastic bags floating in the ocean because they look like a tasty jellyfish.

This league is connecting two areas that don’t seem like they’d work together, robotics and waste, to make a beautiful solution to help save wildlife! There are some innovative ways that robots can help us to protect wildlife, from using drones to gauge poaching areas to creating robotic fish that measure ocean health, and this league is a group of students that is putting their brains together to come up with more ways that robotics can help our animals and our Earth. This is the first installation of a blog series that will track what the league is doing, why they are doing it, and how you can help out too!

Please welcome our guest bloggers for this series, the Jersey Voltage Purple FIRST Lego League Robotics Team:


JV Lego Team 1

Hi there! We are the Jersey Voltage Purple FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics team. We are a team of 10 students who live in Jersey Village, Texas and we are here to not only talk about trash (plastics in particular); but we are here to clean it up or at the least create excitement and awareness of the world’s plastics. We’re working on a project now, so photos are to come, but below you can check out why we chose to focus on plastics and see some great pictures of us while in the brainstorming stage!

Did you know that the very first plastic was developed in Britain way back in 1862, and plastics were exhibited at the Great Exhibition in London?! Plastics are used in many important ways that help humans and animals stay healthy, like in the medical field, and use of plastics exploded in the first decade after World War II. Just in the past 30 years, the plastic industry has gotten huge and includes many plastic products that could potentially be replaced by reusable items, like reusable water bottles or plastic bags.


This explosion of the use of plastics greatly impacts our eco-system and affects our wildlife. All of us have used many water bottles in our lifetime, but how many of those bottles have been made of plastic? Last year, the average American used 167 disposable plastic water bottles, but only recycled 38. Do you know how many get into our eco-system? Of the millions of water bottles used every day, most of them will eventually end up in an animal’s environment. So we’re here to help. Many people are trying to limit the amount of plastic they use, and some have come up with some pretty creative solutions to this somewhat overwhelming problem!


Take Action Now: You can save wildlife today by using a reusable tote for your groceries instead of single-use plastic bags. You can also exchange your single-use plastic bottles for a long-term refillable bottle. Visit the Houston Zoo’s Take Action page and find out what else you can do!


In our next blog we will tell you about a few ideas that we uncovered in our research and what we’ve been working on with our robotics to help save wildlife! So stay tuned, more to come and plenty to do!


Founded in 1989 and based in Manchester, NH, FIRST is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designed to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, and to motivate them to pursue education and career opportunities in STEM fields.


This is a sustainability reference document. 

Celebrate World Lion Day

Carolyn-Jess-2014-ResizeWe have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2015 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a 14 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. Carolyn was awarded the Alban Heiser Conservation Award in 2014, presented to her by Jack Hanna. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org

This summer seemed to go by extremely fast, which, like it or not, leads into going back to school very soon. Just before I head back into the classroom, I am feeling the need for one more celebration before I hit the books and my studying. What is there to celebrate when there is so much back to school mayhem? World Lion Day of course! World Lion Day is on August 10th and is a great way to celebrate our lions everywhere in the world. These majestic creatures symbolize strength, honor, and bravery. I think back on books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched with lions in them, and all of them use lions to suggest strength and courage. Our lions in Africa and India are strong and courageous, but they need our help in a battle that they are continually fighting. This is a battle that is truly hard for them to win, but all of us can help them to overcome this struggle. One struggle the lions are facing is called human-wildlife conflict. Basically, as more land is taken away from the lions’ territory for agricultural development and as populations increase, more human –wildlife conflict is occurring. This seems to be a difficult problem to fix, but there is a solution that has proven to be successful. Lion Guardians, men who are in charge of protecting lions, are helping to increase the lions’ population and intervening in positive ways. Lion guardians help with building protective fences around livestock, help find lost and wandering livestock, warn farmers when lions are spotted on their land, and are creating an awareness of the lion’s importance for the people who live in these areas. These men use what is called “conflict mitigation” and they have been successful in helping their communities gain a greater understanding of carnivores.


The Houston Zoo supports projects which provide training and resources for the Lion Guardians. These projects provide the materials and critical resources needed to the villagers in these areas that provide hope for our lions. Without these groups, we could one day only see these lions in the books and movies and not in the wild.
Let’s celebrate the importance of our world’s lions and create awareness for them. August 10th is the lions’ special day, so why not visit them at the zoo?

Learn about all the organizations that the Houston Zoo works with to save lions in the wild and read about the 2015 Feed Your Wildlife Conservation Gala on October 14th 2015.  You can help us protect lions in Africa.  This event will support a regional effort called Pride: Lion Conservation Alliance, that is finding solutions to save lions from extinction across East Africa.

Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess is Back to Talk About Endangered Species Day

Carolyn-Jess-2014-ResizeWe have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2015 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a 13 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. Carolyn was awarded the Alban Heiser Conservation Award in 2014, presented to her by Jack Hanna. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.


Wouldn’t it be great if there was a whole day dedicated to endangered species around the world? Wait, there IS such a thing!  This Friday is Endangered Species Day – the whole day is for these animals to get  the attention they need and to create awareness about who they are, where they live, and why they are endangered.  Endangered Species Day is celebrated  in the United States every year on the 3rd Friday in May.  Now that you know there is a special day to celebrate endangered animals, here are some ways to celebrate.  First, you can talk to a teacher or librarian to see if they could help support you in getting the word out.  You could have some informational booths set up at school about different endangered species around the world and reasons why they are in decline.  You could also get a club at your school to sponsor a movie night and show one of the Disney Nature movies.  As a fundraiser, you could sell popcorn and drinks and send that money to the Zoo or Wildlife Refuge since they work with many of these endangered animals.

Carolyn Jess APC

You could also do something as simple as making a few changes in your home to help these species.  Practicing using less water when you bathe or shower and brush your teeth would be a great idea.  The Texas Blind Salamander is endangered due to the overuse of water in the aquifers that they live in San Marcos.

Another idea would be to volunteer at a wildlife refuge or wildlife rescue center.  These places could really use the help and they work directly with many of these endangered animals.  You could volunteer just once a week and truly make a difference for the wildlife in your area.

Carolyn Jess HT

There is also a pretty easy way to get the word out really fast – social media.  You can advertise this  day of awareness with pictures of your favorite endangered animal or captions that tell about  Endangered Species Day.

One last thing you can do is to go out to your local wildlife refuge, Zoo, aquarium or other place that works with wildlife on Endangered Species Day.  Most of these places will have events and activities planned out to spread the word about these animals and what you can do to help them.   Maybe next Endangered Species Day, you can be the one handing out information and teaching others about what they can do to help our animals in the wild.

Carolyn Jess PD

A Day in the Life of a Houston Zoo Gorilla

Written by William Weeks, Ashley Kramer & Meredith Ross

I am Ajari, a 14 year old male.  I am the youngest member of the Houston Zoo bachelor group.   I live with 30 year old Chaka, and 23 year old Mike.

Ajari sitting

Yawn……Is it time to wake up already? I want to sleep in more. Oh NO, the lights are on….Well, that’s fine, I can lie in bed a little bit longer. . That means I have a few minutes until breakfast comes. My keepers always say something to me in the morning.   What does “Good morning, sunshine!” even mean?

Oh, finally breakfast is here!  The juice is actually pretty tasty today. My favorite color is the red juice (fruit punch),   and it’s not my favorite when they give me the blue juice (blue crush). Of course I still drink it!  They always ask me to finish my juice before I get the rest of my breakfast. It has stuff in the juice that is good for me, apparently. Things like supplements and vitamins, y’ know, the good stuff.

Ajari lying on rock

After the juice we always play this fun game. They ask me to show them some part of my body, like my shoulder or hand, and then they give me some amazing fruit. This is called training, which my keepers do to keep up on their husbandry. They do this so that if my friends and I ever get cuts or scrapes, we know how to show our keepers where it hurts. So, I just take my favorite fruit:  strawberries, and if I had to choose my least favorite fruit, because let’s be honest what fruit is bad fruit, I would say cantaloupe. But it’s always fun because I am so smart I can show them almost any part of my body they ask for. I will do anything for some fruit. Once all of the fruit is gone they give me some lettuce, and primate biscuits to chow down on while they clean my yard. My yard can be kind of gross, because, well, even though I try and keep it clean for them I somehow always get it messy when I am with my two friends.


We, my friends and I, always can tell when our keepers are ready to let us outside because they start to unlock all of our tunnel doors and start getting ready to open our outside doors. They always send me out first, then after me it’s the big boss man Chaka, followed by my best friend Mike. While were all outside we all get to eat and have fun with these extra goodies that they scatter around for us to forage for.

Oh look, why do those people that feed us always think they are going to go unnoticed when they are with the guests?  We can see them from a mile away; I know their faces like the back of my hand. But, oh well, this yard is so much fun! We get items that will take us all day to work on, these tubes that have gotten extra frozen stuff inside of it. And, there are tasty plants to eat, as well as red river hogs to look at! We always spend the rest of our day eating, napping and playing.

Ajari at meadow window

When it starts to get really hot outside, they start to bring us inside. When we come inside Chaka goes first, then Mike, and then finally it is my turn.

When we get to come inside we get to have some more fruit, and play that fun body training game again. They always have our bedrooms full of fresh bedding, and new browse, and some small food items that are just so delicious but it takes a while to find all of them with our nesting material hiding it everywhere.  After another nap, we get even more food, which is awesome and then its bed time again, which is the best part of the day for me, because I love to sleep.

King of the Hill (Ajari)

Being a gorilla at the Houston Zoo is pretty wonderful. Who could beat this life?

Sabinga's Updates: Houston Teens On Conservation

Renee-Use-THis (1)Houston Zoo has messages about conservation both in the zoo buildings and outside in the public spaces that relate to the animals we care for! Houston Zoo Education Department conducts education programs for all ages.  A program is where an educator or naturalist may show and talk about live animals, or point out important aspects at exhibits, and present brief talks illustrated with slides, films and also sometimes offer summer day-camp programs for children. The last weekend of January was a week where the voice of conservation got louder, a weekend where message of conservation went out to the young minds.  Renee – Conservation Programs Manager, Martha – Conservation Education Coordinator and I did two presentations about conservation to groups of teens. We educated and inspired the teens to become part of our commitment to celebrate, study, and care for wildlife and their habitats. Thanks to the education team for giving us the chance to contribute to their great work.

The voice of conservation stayed strong on the following week when David Brady, the Houston Zoo’s Chief Marketing Officer, and I drove to Green Pine Elementary School. We reached the school around 11:30 am and went straight in school reception, where we received with a warm welcome from Diane (teacher).  Then we were lead through a corridor to one of the classrooms. I was impressed by the look, there were pictures of wildlife and plants on the walls on each side, stars hanging from the roof along the corridor, it looked natural, I felt like I was in a magic kingdom!!  What amazed me most was the attendance of 70 preteens for the presentation!! David gave an excellent, well organized, fascinating and very constructive presentation that related to the mind of young people! I am optimistic his presentation had impressed the kids about the world around them. He is a great speaker and I learned a lot from him that day that I will cherish!

sabinga speaks

I gave a presentation after David, that had a similar message and I presented on the similarity of animals in the zoo to animals in the wild.  I was trying to captivate the imagination of the children and lead them into conservation.  I wanted to encourage students to become ambassadors of their rich environment. It is the same message we give at Save The Elephants in Kenya, during our education program.  We visit schools and the community and show films and presentations on conservation.  We know that we need to encourage everyone to join us in the wildlife saving journey.


Sabinga collecting marine debris in Galveston

The Houston Zoo is excited to welcome a new intern who comes to us all the way from Kenya, in East Africa. Sabinga is in the United States participating in the Community College Initiative Program (CCIP). The Community College Initiative Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Northern Virginia Community College onbehalf of the Community College Consortium (CCC) in partnership with Houston Community College. While participating in this program, he will join us at the zoo as an intern to learn all about what a modern-day zoo is like! Sabinga is already part of the conservation community as he has been working with Save the Elephants in Kenya for over 8 years. He will be documenting his experiences at the Zoo and we will share his thoughts with you here on our blog! Stay tuned for more!

Sabinga's Updates: Learning About Saving Nature at the Zoo

The Houston Zoo has many ways to get involved with saving wildlife and education. I got a tour of the Houston Zoo’s Naturally Wild Swap Shop by staff member, Charlona. I learned a lot!! The Swap Shop is another place that gives a shot in the arm to conservation! It’s a place where children bring items they found in nature while being aware of rules and laws about not collecting bone or skull from hunted or poached animals.


Each item children bring in is awarded a certain number of points, but one can get additional points by telling story of the animal or plant collected! And more points still if one writes or draws something about that item. This helps children to understand exactly what they collected!

Here is one that amazes me: elephant-resize

This is similar to Save the Elephants education department doing by going to schools and give a topic example “living with harmony with elephants” children make a drawing, a play or essay. Education officer select the best and gives a present; Like a game drive to see wildlife in the park, Save The Elephants T-Shirts, or book and pens.

The Houston Zoo shares successes but still needs everyone out there to contribute to our successes, because everyone from this country and around the world have something special inside themselves and nature is waiting for your ideas, your services, your skills, and your expertise! It’s time for you to show up, absolutely stand up for this nature; you have greatness within you, to protect wild animals and plants from extinction!


Sabinga collecting marine debris in Galveston

The Houston Zoo is excited to welcome a new intern who comes to us all the way from Kenya, in East Africa. Sabinga is in the United States participating in the Community College Initiative Program (CCIP). The Community College Initiative Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Northern Virginia Community College onbehalf of the Community College Consortium (CCC) in partnership with Houston Community College. While participating in this program, he will join us at the zoo as an intern to learn all about what a modern-day zoo is like! Sabinga is already part of the conservation community as he has been working with Save the Elephants in Kenya for over 8 years. He will be documenting his experiences at the Zoo and we will share his thoughts with you here on our blog! Stay tuned for more!

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