The Chicago Zoological Society is proud to have been named one of ten recipients of the 2007 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for community service provided by museums and libraries. The medals have been awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) since 1994, and recognize institutions for outstanding social, educational, environmental, or economic contributions to their communities.
“There’s something magical about visiting Brookfield Zoo,” says U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL). “Brookfield has been on the cutting edge of exhibit design, education, conservation, and breeding for more than seventy years. The sense of incredible diversity of life on earth and the message of conservation is everywhere, stimulating imagination and instilling a sense of personal responsibility and involvement.”
“Conservation leadership is key for the Chicago Zoological Society,” agrees Anne-Imelda Radice, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “Its commitment to the beauty and benefits of nature, combined with educational and community outreach, make it a winner every day.”
Nearly two million visitors walked through Brookfield Zoo’s turnstiles last year. With cutting-edge exhibits like The Swamp and The Living Coast and family-friendly zones like the Hamill Family Play Zoo, Brookfield Zoo stands out as a place to learn, play and explore.
Outreach and Education
Within the last decade, the Society has exponentially expanded its outreach and programming, working with community groups, libraries, and schools, and focusing on Chicago’s underserved and multiethnic neighborhoods. In addition, the Society runs a number of regional and international programs directed specifically at students, from preschoolers through high school and college.
Zoo Adventure Passport! (ZAP!), offers free after-school and weekend environment-themed programs and field trips for families with younger children in several underserved Chicago neighborhoods. Middle-school students have an opportunity to continue science education exploration by participating in the Society’s Kids’ Club, an after-school, in-depth science program. High-school students from diverse backgrounds can continue on in the Youth Conservation & Science Corps, which provides hands-on, project-driven mentoring and training. There are also college scholarship opportunities for students pursuing science-related careers.
School Partnership Programs
CZS has also partnered with the Chicago Public School system and with suburban school systems to provide teacher training in science education and help devise science curricula for children from preschool through high school.
The Every Student is a Scientist program offers curricula and technology applications that allow students with hearing, visual, and physical disabilities to learn alongside normally-abled classmates. The School of Environmental Education is a unique partnership with a neighboring high school that provides an interdisciplinary curriculum for freshmen combining algebra, biology, English, and physical education while focusing on local environmental issues and environmental literacy. Facilitated by the district superintendent, the program increases student interest in the sciences through the use of Brookfield Zoo as a living classroom.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.
In addition to the Chicago Zoological Society, other recipients of the 2007 National Medal for Museum and Library Service are Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Georgetown County Library, Kim Yerton Memorial Library, Memphis Public Library, National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Newberry Library, Ocean County Library, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and Vermont Historical Society.