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Congrats to the first Advanced Inquiry Program grads

Posted by: Jenny Mears, Education

Woodland Park Zoo is proud to announce the graduation of its first cohort of Advanced Inquiry Program Master's students! Offered in partnership with Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, the Advanced Inquiry Program is a ground-breaking graduate degree focused on inquiry-driven learning as a powerful agent for social change, public engagement and ecological stewardship. These graduates' journey began two-and-a-half years ago, in graduate courses at the zoo along with web-based courses that connected them with a broad network of educators and community leaders from around the world.

Photo: John E. Hollingsworth.
While these students may have decided to join the AIP to further their own education (or just because they wanted to hang out with animals at the zoo), ultimately, they empowered their audiences and their communities in the process, and are now making positive change in the world together. Collectively, these graduate students furthered their interest in connecting students to nature, creating schoolyard or backyard habitat and conserving local and global wildlife and habitats. These students also discovered a passion for teaching science, honed leadership skills, and fostered participatory learning through inquiry with audiences as young as kindergarten up through adults. With the zoo as their classroom, these graduates enriched their knowledge of the natural world as well as developed skills for engaging their audiences with its beauty, power, fragility, and need for conservation. As part of the Advanced Inquiry Program, these students also traveled on Earth Expeditions to conservation hotspots around the world. This graduating cohort traveled to Borneo, Australia, Namibia, Mongolia, Thailand, Belize, Hawaii, Guyana and Washington's Columbia Plateau. In these faraway and nearby places, these educators deepened their own ability to connect their audience with places they may never see, while broadening their own global understanding.

Photo: John E. Hollingsworth.
Woodland Park Zoo held a festive graduation ceremony this month to celebrate this cohort's many achievements. The graduates, their families, and friends enjoyed a visit from a pharaoh eagle-owl and the Woodland Park Zoo penguin mascot! Wearing caps and gowns, they marched into the auditorium to Pomp & Circumstance to receive their Certificates of Completion. Following celebratory speeches by their Advanced Inquiry Program Advisors, graduates had the opportunity to share the impact that this program had on their personal and professional lives. They proclaimed growth in their teaching, ability to see themselves as leaders, greater depth of knowledge about the natural world, and inspiration to engage their audiences with its conservation. They taught us that there are many different ways to be a leader who engages people in stewardship of the natural world! Woodland Park Zoo is incredibly proud of these amazing educators with their new Master's degrees. We are certain these leaders will make great change in their communities!

Photo: John E. Hollingsworth.

Interested in earning your Master's degree from Woodland Park Zoo? Applications for the next cohort of students is February 28, 2014.