Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:28PM - 254 Views

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Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

The Columbus Zoo made a trip south Thursday to the delight of the students at Northwest Elementary School. Wouter Stellaard and Beth Nagoda displayed the animals, and took the time to teach the students about each one.

“Our department is called Animal Program,” Nogoda said. “We do off-grounds programming with the animals, and a lot of these animals are the ones that go with Jack Hanna. And then we also do local school programming as well.”

Among the animals the children became up-close and personal with were an armadillo, a clouded leopard, a cyrbil, a penguin, and a very special leopard tortoise, named “Lucky.”

“She was an animal that we found crossing 161, which is a four-lane highway, in Columbus,” Nagoda said. “So one of our board members thought she was a rock, and pulled over, and she started to move, and that’s why we named her ‘Lucky,’ because she was lucky she didn’t get hit by a car.”

The students were well prepared for the visit.

“A lot of the classroom teachers have incorporated lessons about habitat and penguins,” Alyssa Bach-Enz, Northwest District Librarian, said. “And I have been talking during library lessons about animals and non-fiction books and trying to incorporate that into my everyday lessons. So the kids have really prepared.”

In conjunction with the appearance by the Columbus Zoo, Bach-Enz said author Linda Stanek, was doing a presentation to kindergarten through second grade students.

“She’s doing a writer’s workshop focused on non-fiction with first and second graders,” Bach-Enz said.

In addition, Nancy Roepinn, also a writer, conducted a writer’s workshop for third, fourth and fifth graders.

“It has really been a push at our school to get our kids to be better writers, especially with the Ohio Achievement Test,” Bach-Enz said. “Our school really excels. The kids are very excited about writing. I really think that the writer’s workshops will focus on things that the kids can build on.”

Northwest Elementary School Principal Scott Martin said the Northwest District specifically plans for annual trips for the various age groups to help expose them to places like the Columbus Zoo.

Rhonda Sissel, Martin’s secretary said the first graders visit the Columbus Zoo each year, while second graders travel to the Newport Aquarium; third graders make the trip to COSI in Columbus, and fourth graders go to Serpent Mound.

“We do it mainly because there are some areas where people can’t come to the zoo, so we want to be able to bring the zoo to them,” Nagoda said. “It’s also a great way to educate people. We do birthday parties and wedding receptions, so it’s a great way to entertain, but also to educate as well. This is a great way, especially with children. Hopefully they fall in love with what we do and with the animals that we bring. They are our future generation. So we want to expose them to that, and hopefully they’ll want to be that next group of zookeepers or veterinarians or animal scientists. So we want to get them while they’re young and get them loving things.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com

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