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Birmingham Zoo and Spire Partnership Yields National Award-Winning Program


The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that Birmingham Zoo has been recognized with the 2019 Education Award for the Zoo’s significant achievement in the Spire ZooSchool program. Birmingham Zoo received this national award during AZA’s September conference in New Orleans. The Birmingham Zoo is pleased to announce that Spire is naming ZooSchool for the 2019-2020 for the third school year.

The AZA Education Award recognizes outstanding achievement in educational program design, judging programs on their ability to promote conservation knowledge, attitudes and behavior, show innovation, and measure success.

Now in its ninth year, Spire ZooSchool at the Birmingham Zoo is a week-long program focusing on conservation, the environment and the Zoo. This partnership with Spire as the lead sponsor and Birmingham City Schools serves over 700 seventh graders each year and provides a rich learning experience, aligned with state education standards, to a population of students who may not have frequent access to the Zoo.

“Spire ZooSchool is a perfect example of the many collaborative projects done between the Birmingham Zoo and partnering organizations to serve the citizens of Birmingham,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, Birmingham Zoo President & CEO. “Our unique approach uses innovative curriculum, hands-on learning, and critical thinking to create an environment for every student enrolled in our Spire ZooSchool program to build a personal connection to conservation. Zoo Educators strive to ensure that each student departs with an abundance of knowledge and a greater appreciation for the natural world.”

Partners on this project include 2019-2020 sponsors: Spire, Birmingham City Schools and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Education Accountability. “The Spire ZooSchool opens a whole new world of learning and possibilities to Birmingham City Schools students,” said Joe Hampton, President, Spire Alabama and Mississippi. “It’s a program that enriches lives and strengthens our community. We are proud to support this very impactful education initiative.”

“Education at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums is marked by a sharing of scientific discovery and a love of nature,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “By sharing their knowledge and passion for wildlife through ZooSchool, educators at Birmingham Zoo are inspiring the next generation of conservationists.” To date, Spire ZooSchool has served over 2,000 urban students who have limited exposure to wildlife and its surrounding habitats.

To learn more about AZA’s Honors and Awards, please visit

Click here for Birmingham Zoo & Spire press release.