The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo received top honors in its 2014 Education
Award for the Conservation Discovery Corps education program.
The AZA Education Award recognizes outstanding achievement in
educational program design, judging programs on their ability to promote
conservation knowledge, attitudes and behavior, show innovation and
measure success. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo received its Education
Award in the category of institutions with budgets under $5 million.
“Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is taking the lead in science
education,” said Jim Maddy, AZA president and chief executive officer.
“Education is a high priority for Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, as well
as for all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, and this award provides
well-deserved national recognition for the Conservation Discovery Corps
education program, which is helping to build the next generation of
“Award winning education programs like the Conservation Discovery
Corps education program not only heighten awareness but also change
lives,” said Rick Barongi, executive vice president of conservation at
the Houston Zoo and chair of AZA’s Honors and Awards Committee. “This
innovative program is a great example of the critical role that zoos and
aquariums can play in enriching the quality of live in all segments of
The Conservation Discovery Corps (CDC) is a citizen-science based
conservation/education program for students in high school, ages 14 to
18. Students are provided applied wildlife conservation training in both
zoo and field research. Students also obtain an inside perspective on
the zoo and its species and gain experience in conservation education,
public service and public speaking.
“Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is very proud of its Conservation
Discovery Corps,” said Gregg Dancho, director of Connecticut’s Beardsley
Zoo. “Over the Zoo’s history, we have had many educational programs for
children yet we feel this program for high school students is essential
in providing students with first-hand experience and insight into
conservation and environmental programming that may shape their college
planning and perhaps a lifelong vocation. To have these students from
freshman to senior year, we witness their remarkable personal growth.
They graduate as poised public speakers, ardent field conservationists,
and talented educators. The leaders of tomorrow are truly at the zoo
today. I really wish I had this program available to me when I was in