OKC ZOO ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR OKC LIVING CLASSROOM GRANT PROGRAM
January 21, 2021
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, in partnership with Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative and National Wildlife Federation, invites Oklahoma City metro area schools, Kindergarten through 12th grade, to apply for the OKC Living Classroom Grant Program and help increase habitat for monarchs and other pollinators by creating gardens at their schools. These gardens will include monarch host and nectar plants to provide a food source for monarchs along an essential part of their migration pathway that funnels through Oklahoma.
Monarch butterflies and similar pollinators are in trouble and need our help. In the last 20 years, the monarch butterfly population has dropped by over 80 percent. The main problem afflicting monarchs is habitat loss throughout their migration and breeding range. Migrating monarchs travel through Oklahoma in the spring and fall as they make their way between central Mexico and southern Canada. Thus, creating and protecting monarch habitat in Oklahoma is critical for this iconic butterfly’s survival.
“Creating a monarch garden is a unique, hands-on way for teachers to introduce their students to these valuable pollinators,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, OKC Zoo’s director of conservation and science. “We hope this program inspires the next generation of Oklahomans to care about and help conserve pollinators and native habitat not only at their schools, but also in their communities, neighborhoods and own backyards.”
Now through Thursday, April 1, 2021, all public, private and charter K-12 schools in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Yukon, Mustang, Moore, Midwest City, Del City, Norman, Bethany, Piedmont, Deer Creek, Choctaw and Warr Acres, are eligible to apply for the OKC Living Classroom Grant Program. A maximum of five grants will be awarded by Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Recipient schools will receive amounts up to $1,500 to purchase garden supplies. Plus, teachers from each location will receive training on how to incorporate their new gardens and program related curriculum into their classes. Since 2018, 13 OKC Living Classroom grants have been awarded to local schools.
“Teaching educators about the monarch butterfly is a direct path of wider engagement about this incredible creature,” said Lily Peppers, director of education for Myriad Botanical Gardens. “Watching teachers be amazed by the new things they learn about monarchs is inspiring. Taking the information provided by this program back to their students helps foster an appreciation for monarch butterflies, and nature as a whole.”
The OKC Zoo is committed to taking action for monarch conservation. In addition to supporting this grant program, the Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program for North American Monarchs and an active partner in Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative, a statewide initiative which strives to increase habitat for native pollinators throughout Oklahoma. The Zoo also hosts a statewide literacy program, Read for Adventure, and this year’s feature book, Juniper’s Butterfly Garden, highlights a young girl’s journey to save monarchs. Sponsored by OG&E, the program encourages Oklahoma library card holders to check out Juniper’s Butterfly Garden, from any participating public and tribal library, to receive a voucher redeemable for free general Zoo admission for up to four people. To learn more about Read for Adventure including a list of participating libraries, visit www.okczoo.org/readforadventure.
Get involved! Oklahomans can contribute to conserving pollinator populations which nearly 75 percent of the world's crops require. Providing a sustainable habitat for wildlife begins with your plants. By planting pesticide free, native species that wildlife depends on, individuals help create habitat and begin to restore natural spaces. Adding water sources, nesting boxes and other habitat features enhances the environment for wildlife including butterflies, other pollinators and birds.
Help plant a pathway for pollinators by applying for the OKC Living Classroom Grant Program. The Oklahoma City Zoo is open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with no public access on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Advance tickets are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members and can be purchased at www.okczoo.org/tickets. Zoo tickets are limited each day to maintain social distancing among guests. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free.
Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.