News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
April 14, 2021                               
Educators and Lifelong Learners Reimagine Science with Brookfield Zoo
Chicago Zoological Society’s Science Fellows, Teacher Classes, and Advanced Inquiry Program Offer Professional Development Opportunities Year-round

Brookfield, Ill.—As part of its robust continuing education programming, the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) is now accepting applications for its 2021-2022 Science Fellows program, which provides yearlong training to Illinois educators interested in incorporating science and conservation into their pedagogy. The program takes place virtually and at Brookfield Zoo.
The intensive professional development program brings together out-of-school workshops focusing on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with virtual classroom mentoring and optional observations to help educators enhance hands-on science learning remotely, in the classroom, and a combination of both. The program emphasizes quality teaching, which includes understanding and implementing the NGSS and inquiry-based learning strategies.
“Making the decision to join the Science Fellows program has helped me to be a better educator and a better environmental steward,” said second-year participant Janice Mathus, who is a teacher at Theophilus Schmid Elementary, which is located on the far south side of Chicago.
The Science Fellows application period is open through June 15, and courses begin August 4. Professional development credits are available to participants who complete the program. To learn more and apply, visit
In addition to Science Fellows, the Chicago Zoological Society offers many other teacher professional development opportunities, including year-round classes, which can be viewed at and More than 10 courses are available, each themed around varying topics, such as Children’s Books in Science; Science is Art; Science Through GIFs and Memes; and Fairy Tales, Conservation, and Engineering, Oh My! to name a few. This past year, 200 teachers participated virtually in the teacher classes, after which they received professional development credit hours.
Through her involvement in the Teacher Classes, Lisa Pavic, a science teacher at Glenbrook South High School, created a lesson plan for her environmental club focused on building a full-scale pollinator garden. Her students are collaborating with elementary-age children to design a walkable mandala labyrinth from seed paper that will disintegrate into the ground to populate the garden, a particularly creative approach to teaching applied science.
“The Teacher Classes and experiences at Brookfield Zoo over the years have transformed my teaching in so many ways. Getting at the true heart of Next Generation Science Standard practices, the Chicago Zoological Society courses allow me to be more creative and open to trying new strategies because of their ongoing support,” said Pavic. “Brookfield Zoo’s commitment to helping our students and community thrive despite the challenges of COVID-19 is incredible.”
Finally, the Chicago Zoological Society and Miami University have been collaborating since 2010 on the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP), a conservation-focused, inquiry-driven learning experience that combines web-based graduate courses with exciting face-to-face experiential and field study. Students in this national online degree program contribute to social and ecological change in their communities and earn their master’s degrees along the way.
The Chicago Zoological Society’s education programming structure embraces a “no tests, no desks, no thesis, just learning” philosophy, according to Agnes Kovacs, senior manager of graduate programs and partnerships for the Society. Between the Science Fellows, Teacher Classes, and AIP program, teachers and lifelong learners alike have the chance to explore nature through a science lens, guided by conservation experts and leaders in the field. Applications for the AIP program open in September. Learn more by visiting
The Institute of Science Teaching Excellence is supported by the Christopher Family Foundation, Nicor Gas, and State Farm®. Science Fellows is supported by the Polk Bros. Foundation.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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