“It’s a beautiful day!” said Roosevelt Elementary kindergarten teacher Melissa Pick.
After a spring downpour the day before, teachers, chaperones, and the 114 students alike were delighted for a sunny, dry day for a field trip to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Plus, it was the first visit to the zoo for many of the Tacoma public school students.
“Raise your hand if this is your first time at the zoo!”
Eight of the 12 kindergarteners in Ms. Pick’s class raised their hands.
“What animal are you most excited to see?”
“The elephant!” said 6-year-old Za’ray. “The siamangs!” chimed in Gloria.
“Where should we go first?” asked Ms. Pick.
The students agreed: the Pacific Seas Aquarium. Adorned in animal-themed headbands, they walked in a single-file line through the plaza, down the steps, and into the aquarium. Awaiting them upon their arrival: a hammerhead shark!
“A shark, a shark!” squealed the kids as they watched it swim by.
“Look at the jellyfish!” shouted one student to his class. Captivated by the pulsing and drifting colorful creatures, they all surrounded the Jelly Globe in a chorus of “oohs” and “awes.”
They continued through the aquarium and waited in line for their turn at the Tidal Touch Zone.
“Only use one gentle finger to touch the sea stars and sea urchins,” explained Ms. Pick.
After watching her brave classmates, six-year-old Hazelyn hesitantly put her pointer finger in the water and, in return, received an anemone hug. She was all smiles after that.
Up next: Rocky Shores. The students watched as the otters used their paws to open clamshells.
“What did we learn about sea otters in class?” asked Ms. Pick.
“They sleep holding hands and eat a lot of food,” the students answered.
The class passed by Hudson the muskox in the Arctic Tundra area, taking a nap in the sunshine before eyeing the red wolves and howling.
Then started the “when is lunch?!” questions to Ms. Pick. Fortunately, they were next to the Picnic Pavilion, where their lunches were waiting for them.
After some crackers and cheese, apple slices, and PB&Js, they were off to the Asian Forest Sanctuary, where they saw Suki, the elephant, tigers, a tapir, and the siamangs.
“Now we want to see birds!” said 5-year-old Simeon. Good thing that the Budgie Buddies Aviary was next on the itinerary.
Each student grabbed a seed stick and waited for the budgies to fly down and get their snack.
“There’s a bird on my stick!” Gloria exclaimed nervously.
“They’re all friendly,” explained the nearby keepers.
That helped. Gloria smiled and laughed as the birds flew around her.
With only half an hour left, the class headed to the Kids’ Zone, where they saw snakes, frogs, meerkats, and goats.
No rain and all dry socks; they headed back to school.
“I can’t wait to tell my mom about today,” said Hazelyn. “She’s going to be so jealous.”
“This has been incredibly fun and educational for our school,” Melissa Pick said. “We are grateful to The Zoo Society for making this possible.”
There’s nothing like seeing the zoo from the eyes of a child. The childlike wonder of seeing animals they have never seen and learn more about the extraordinary world we live in makes it seem almost magical.
We want all students to experience that magic, no matter their circumstances. Reading this excerpt from Melissa Prick’s kindergarten class at Roosevelt Elementary School and the joy that it brought Melissa and her students makes all that we do at The Zoo Society worthwhile.
The Zoo Society generously funded the students’ school field trip, which covered the cost of zoo admission and transportation. Now in its 16th year, the school field trip scholarship program has helped over 37,000 students from low-income Tacoma elementary schools experience a special day at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. One adult chaperone for every five kids also attends for free, so 7,400 parents benefitted from the experience.
Your donation dollars are what allow these students to experience the wonders of The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.
If you feel inspired by this excerpt, click the button below and make a donation today!