Zoo news letterhead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Oct. 9, 2012

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639
Joanna Bender, 314/646-4703

Gateway Greening-St. Louis: Leah Almeling, 800/520-1834, ext. 3

SAINT LOUIS ZOO, NATIONAL MUSEUMS OF KENYA, TOHONO CHUL PARK OF TUCSON JOIN FORCES TO TEACH YOUTH ABOUT POLLINATORS, URBAN GARDENING

$86,000 from Museums Connect Grant Will Help Cover Costs For Year-Long Program Involving
30 Youth in Designing Gardens, Sculpture, Art Exhibits and Public Outreach

The Saint Louis Zoo today announced that it has joined forces with institutions in Kenya, Africa, and Arizona and with a range of urban gardeners to involve 30 young people, age 17-22, in designing and establishing pollinator gardens and pollinator habitat sculptures, while reaching out to residents of their urban communities. They will be sharing messages about the importance of developing pollinator habitats within community gardens.

Called PAUSE­, Pollinators/Art/Urban Agriculture/Society/and the Environment, the nearly $200,000 project is being supported by a one-year $86,000 grant from Museums Connect (formerly Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad). Museums Connect is made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums. The remaining costs will be shared by the Zoo and its project co-sponsors---the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi and Tohono Chul Park of Tucson, Ariz.

There are 10 slots at each institution for unpaid positions, with requirements for those who are selected. Each participant must have a high school diploma, GED or be a student in good standing in a secondary school, college or university. Participants must be conversant in English; bilingual youth are encouraged to apply. Participants should have a strong interest in gardening, botany, animal or plant science, landscape design/architecture and/or in the visual arts; previous study or work/volunteer experience in any of these areas is preferred. Each participant must be willing to commit a minimum of 16 hours each month from October 2012 to July 2013, including 10 days in April 2013. A reference is required. Please visit www.stlzoo.org/PAUSE to apply.

Program partners expect PAUSE to foster an intergenerational dialogue with youth and to develop a cultural exchange between nations. Four students and two staff members from Kenya will visit Tucson and St. Louis institutions, while two students and two staffers from each of the U.S. institutions will go to Kenya. In Arizona, Kenyan students will have an opportunity to visit an Indian reservation to witness dry-land farming methods used by native people and a seed bank used to save the heirloom seeds of many Southwestern tribes.

In St. Louis, the Kenyan students will visit local farmers’ markets to talk to growers about farming techniques and the importance of native pollinators. They will also learn about the importance of biodiversity in discussions with St. Louis-based conservation botanists and biologists. When U.S. teams visit Kenya, they will visit urban and community gardens and sculpture installations and participate in recognition celebrations.

“This first-hand, cross-cultural exchange will provide many opportunities for Kenyan youth to experience two very different American environments, while U.S. students will gain valuable insight from their visit to Nairobi,” said Ed Spevak, curator of invertebrates at the Saint Louis Zoo and director of the Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation.

“We also expect this program to develop skills in communications, artistic expression and teamwork among urban youth and for participants to leave the program with a heightened awareness of the importance of urban gardening.”

Spevak said that PAUSE program sponsors believe in spreading the word among the next generation about the critical importance of honeybees, bumblebees and other insects, birds and small mammals that pollinate over 90 percent of the planet's flowering plants and one third of all human food crops.

“Realizing the importance of these pollinators and of building urban gardens adds another dimension to current gardening practices,” he said. “More enlightened gardeners will increase garden productivity by attracting pollinators, and this will have a lasting impact on the urban landscape.”

Project partners—in St. Louis, local universities and Gateway Greening—will recruit participants. Students will begin the year-long program this fall with a discussion of the basics of biology, pollinator habits, habitats and identification and with introductions to local experts. Development of gardens and sculpture and design will follow with a “learning event” on technology and applications for public education closing the program.

The four program “learning events” are set for November 2012, January 2013, April 2013 (when Kenyan students visit U.S. teams) and June 2013, when teams plant their gardens and install art projects and when students and staff from St. Louis and Tucson visit Kenya.

The content for these sessions will come from artists, scientists, educators, community gardeners and social media experts in all three locations. Participants will incorporate fashion, arts and culture into both exhibits and programs and explore the topics of volunteerism and community involvement.

Youth and the program sponsors will communicate through Skype, video conferencing, shared video clips, Smartphone applications and other Web 2.0 technologies to give participants broad access to project information. In addition, the program will include hands-on interaction and face-to-face discussions with local mentors and subject matter experts from academic institutions and urban farming and gardening organizations.

About National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi)
The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is a state corporation established by an Act of Parliament, the National Museums and Heritage Act, 2006 no. 6 of 2006. NMK is a multi-disciplinary institution whose role is to collect, preserve, study, document and present Kenya’s past and present cultural and natural heritage. This is for the purposes of enhancing knowledge, appreciation, respect and sustainable utilization of these resources for the benefit of Kenya and the world, for now and posterity

About the Saint Louis Zoo
The Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. The Zoo attracts 3,000,000 visitors each year.

About the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute
Created in 2004 to bring together conservation initiatives under a single organization, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute is dedicated to creating a sustainable future for wildlife and for people around the world. The Institute and its 12 centers take a holistic approach to troubled ecosystems by addressing three key ingredients in conservation success: wildlife management and recovery, conservation science, and support of the human populations that coexist with wildlife. For more information, visit www.stlzoo.org/conservation.

About Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona
Award-winning Tohono Chul Park is where nature, art and culture connect. Named one of the World’s Great Botanical Gardens by Travel + Leisure and listed by National Geographic Traveler as one of the top 22 Secret Gardens in the U.S. and Canada, there is something for everyone. This oasis in the desert offers a respite from the hectic pace of daily life, provides an informative look at the region’s fascinating cultural traditions and it’s even more interesting flora and fauna.

About Gateway Greening, St, Louis
Gateway Greening is a non-profit organization that educates and empowers people to strengthen their communities through gardening and urban agriculture. Gateway Greening has been working to provide creative, grassroots solutions to urban problems since 1984. Programs include supporting more than 200 community and youth-focused gardens across the St. Louis area through educational opportunities, grants and technical assistance; urban beautification projects that enhance the downtown St. Louis urban landscape; and City Seeds Urban Farm, a 2.5 acre farm in downtown St. Louis that provides therapeutic horticulture and jobs training programs to individuals who are homeless and underserved.

About the American Association of Museums
The American Association of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. We are dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future.