Twenty-seven Indianola seventh and eighth grade GEAR UP students recently visited the Oklahoma City Zoo. Students began the day by participating in Animal S.O.S. (Save Our Species), which is only one of 18 educational programs the zoo offers. Abby Hurt, OKC Zoo Educator, discussed with students about endangered species in Oklahoma and around the world as well as ways people can help those animals. Students learned H.I.P.P.O., which stands for Habitat Destruction, Invasive Species, Pollution, Poaching, and Overhunting, all of which have endangered various species throughout the world.
“It is so important for us to educate our youth and ignite a passion in them so in return they can educate and change their ways,” Hurt said. “Conservation projects are out there, and we want more people to be aware and become involved to spread the message to help save these animals.”
Students had the opportunity to visit the different animal exhibits, including Sanctuary Asia, the Great EscApe, Oklahoma Trails Adventure, Lion Overlook, and Island Life. The zoo is home to a variety of animals, including two species of bears, cats, African and Asian elephants, snakes from around the world, zebras, giraffes, primates, and more.
After exploring the zoo, students enjoyed pizza catered by the Salt and Surrey Catering. During lunch, students, teachers and GEAR UP Education Coordinator, Brianna Brassfield, shared their favorite experiences of the day as well as things they learned.
“The OKC Zoo is truly committed to conservation efforts and community programs,” said Brassfield. “I enjoy visiting a place where there is experiential learning for all visitors. I think students learned a lot while having fun, which is one of the purposes of our field trips.”
The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. In 2017, Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.