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OKC ZOO ANNOUNCES 2021 LIVING CLASSROOM GRANT RECIPIENTS

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, in partnership with Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative (OMPC) and National Wildlife Federation (NWF), is thrilled to announce the 2021 recipients of the Living Classroom Grant Program, representing six Oklahoma City metro schools. The goal of the grant program is to inspire young minds to become actively involved in the conservation of monarch butterflies and other pollinators with the establishment and management of school-based pollinator gardens, consisting of monarch host plants and nectar plants.

“The Living Classroom Grant Program empowers students to become advocates for monarch butterflies and other pollinator species by contributing to the flourishing success of their school’s pollinator gardens,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, OKC Zoo’s director of conservation and science and founding member of OMPC. “Through conservation-focused curriculum, hands-on activities and opportunities to connect with pollinator conservationists, students gain real-world experience conserving the monarch butterfly.”

In the last two decades, due to habitat loss, widespread pesticide use and climate change, monarch butterfly populations have plummeted at an alarming rate. As a primary stop along the monarch butterflies’ 3,000-mile migration path, Oklahoma plays a critical role in providing much-needed sustenance to ensure the survival of this pollinator species. Each spring and fall, monarchs fly through Oklahoma in search of milkweed plants on which to lay their eggs and flowering plants to provide nectar to fuel their journey. With the development of school-based pollinator gardens, generations of young Oklahomans are equipped with the tools and educational resources to increase habitat for Oklahoma’s pollinator species.

 

The 2021 Living Classroom Grant Recipients are as follows:

•             Terra Verde Discovery School, Norman

•             Redbud Farm and Christian School, Oklahoma City

•             Special Care, Oklahoma City

•             Heritage Trails Elementary, Moore

•             Putnam City North High School, Oklahoma City

•             Millwood Arts Academy, Oklahoma City

 

Grant recipients are awarded up to $1,500 each to purchase garden supplies, two professional development opportunities for teachers per school, NWF’s Monarch Mission curriculum and an assigned mentor from the local community who provides guidance regarding plant selections and garden management practices. The Zoo’s Director of Botanical Gardens, Christopher Hoffman, will serve as a mentor to Millwood Arts Academy.

Since the grant program’s inception in 2018, a total of 19 grants have been awarded. To fulfill grant requirements, school representatives are required to assemble a final report, featuring photos and a summary explaining how the funds were utilized, as well as three student work examples, by June 30, 2022. Grant recipients also agree to maintain and commit resources to the garden for at least three years. In addition, a minimum of 100 square feet of planting space must be dedicated to creating monarch habitat. Gardens must also be established by November 1, 2021. At that point, the schools will register their gardens as official monarch habitats on the OMPC and NWF websites. 

Applications for the 2022-2023 Living Classroom Grant Program will be available on the Zoo’s website by early January 2022. Public, private and charter K-12 schools in the Oklahoma City metro are eligible to apply. This includes schools in the following areas Oklahoma City, Edmond, Yukon, Mustang, Moore, Midwest City, Del City, Norman, Bethany, Piedmont, Deer Creek, Choctaw and Warr Acres. For a list of additional qualifications, click here.

               The Oklahoma City Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance tickets at www.okczoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. 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, Linktree 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.

-okczoo-

 

About the Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative:

The Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative’s (OMPC) mission is to educate, engage and support Oklahomans in the creation, protection and enhancement of suitable habitat (including milkweed and nectar sources) for monarchs and pollinators throughout Oklahoma. The OMPC was formed in 2016 by 40 Oklahoma volunteer individuals, agencies and non-profits with aligned missions. In 2018, OMPC launched Okies for Monarchs, a statewide public awareness campaign, which includes the Okies for Monarchs website okiesformonarchs.org.

 

About Myriad Botanical Gardens:

The Myriad Botanical Gardens is one of Oklahoma City’s most beloved public spaces, offering its visitors a 15-acre natural escape in the very heart of the metro known as downtown Oklahoma City. Free and open to the public, outdoor spaces include ornamental gardens, a children’s garden and playground, Great Lawn, lake, an off-leash dog park, water features including splash fountains for children and walking and jogging paths. Visit www.myriadgardens.org for more information.

 

About the National Wildlife Federation:

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America's largest and most trusted conservation organization, works across the country to unite Americans from all walks of life in giving wildlife a voice. NWF has been on the front lines for wildlife since 1936, fighting for the conservation values that are woven into the fabric of the nation's collective heritage. To learn more about NWF visit www.nwf.org.

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