ASHEBORO, NC - An educator and zoo keeper from the North Carolina Zoo will travel to the tundra near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, in late September and early October, for a week-long Communicators' Leadership Camp sponsored by Polar Bears International (PBI), a leading conservation group.

The two, educator Steve Gerkin and polar-bear keeper Marissa Krouse, will join 18 other educators, zookeepers and public relations professionals from the U.S. and Canada.

Krouse, who attended the leadership camp last year as a student, was asked to return as a facilitator for this year's class of zookeepers due to the enthusiasm and commitment she demonstrated last year and due to her work on behalf of polar-bear conservation over the past year, according to N.C. Zoo General Curator Ken Reininger.

The goal of the camp is to inspire, inform and empower zoo professionals to advocate for environmental stewardship in their home communities. The two will additionally learn about polar bears, climate change and how each of us can help.

Churchill's polar bears, part of the Western Hudson Bay population, draw visitors from around the world during their fall migration. Every summer, these bears are driven ashore when the ice on the bay melts, taking away their seal-hunting grounds. They spend the next few months resting and fasting. As cold weather returns, they begin to gather on the shore near Churchill to wait for the ice to form-which Krouse and Gerkin will witness.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.