Sep 23

Putting Education Front and Center

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is fortunate to have many jewels in its crown. But one of the things that sets us apart from other zoos and makes us a global leader in conservation and education has always taken place a little behind the scenes. 

Until now. The $27.5 million education and exploration expansion, which is slated to open in 2017 will, quite literally, put the zoo’s commitment to education at the very forefront of everything we do.

The Education Center, which will open next July, is part of the expansion project that is happening just inside the north entrance to the zoo and will be a centralized home for all of our formal classroom education, from our preschool program through Zoo Academy high school.

“All of our school activities have historically been conducted all over the campus,” says Todd Scholz, director of capital projects for the zoo. “If you aren’t part of a particular program, you’re never exactly sure where it is or where the students are supposed to be. Now, there will be a single drop off, and it’s outside the zoo’s perimeter, so parents and kids won’t have to go through guest services or have a badge to access their class.”

Sam Olbrey, a parent of two Little Lions preschool students says that will come in handy. “Right now, it takes about 30 minutes total for the kids to get to and from their classroom every day,” he says. He adds that he almost wishes his eldest, who is graduating in the spring, had another year so that she could enjoy the new digs.

Fortunately, there will be many more opportunities for young Miss Olbrey and her peers to take advantage of the education center, both through our formal, academically-accredited education programs as well as the camps and classes that are available to students of all ages.

“This is a great chance for children of all ages and all socio-economic backgrounds to get the experience of learning in a fun, creative, safe, relaxed environment,” says Nicole Treves, a local mother of six, about why she has chosen to make a donation to the education and exploration expansion campaign. “It’s giving kids the tools to learn every single thing they need for the rest of their lives.”

Treves says that she also donated because she is impressed by the zoo’s continuous commitment to innovating and improving. “Most organizations, once they’ve been called the best in the world, might pat themselves on the back and stop there. But our zoo is always working on meeting, and exceeding, the needs of the community from the very young to the very old.”

If you would like to donate to the new education and exploration campaigns, please visit our website or call our office at 402-738-2073.