“Free?” she asked dubiously.
“Free.” I replied.
“Are you sure it’s free?”
“Yep, it’s really free. The bus, too,” I confirmed.
I’ve been having this conversation a lot lately as the new Zoo-to-Community Coordinator. Zoo-to-Community is a program that was started in 2006 to provide local residents better access to the Zoo. Three years ago, we received starting grants from the City of Oakland, Maddie’s Fund, and other local funders, and began spreading the word about free and subsidized field trips to the Zoo for Child Development Centers, Head Start programs, and elementary schools in Oakland. Additional funders have joined in support of this program, including the Fremont Bank Foundation.
The Zoo-to-Community program supports and improves science literacy by providing science and environmental programs with meaningful hands-on learning experiences otherwise unavailable in low-income classrooms. Before each program, Zoo educators provide teachers with preparatory handbooks with ideas for discussion topics, investigative assignments, and follow-up activities.