ASHEBORO, NC ­­— The North Carolina Zoo is honored to announce it has received a $75,000 grant from Wells Fargo to launch a new program to improve environmental literacy in our state’s schools.

“Environmental education is central to our mission,” says Beth Folta, the Zoo’s curator of education. “This generous grant from Wells Fargo, made possible through the considerable efforts of the N.C. Zoo Society, will enable us to create a program of lessons and materials that link Zoo field trips—both in person and virtual—to the North Carolina state learning standards to support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).”

Folta says there are three principal goals:

1) Provide compelling teacher-guided learning experiences that increase the understanding of wildlife, the environment, sustainability and conservation for visiting statewide elementary school groups (the majority of current field trips);

2) Create a distance-learning program for middle and high-school classes that use virtual onsite experiences for less-frequent field trip visitors;

3) Increase the number of students who visit the Zoo annually to participate in free educational field trips. (Organized school groups can visit the Zoo for free once a year if they contact the Zoo in advance.)

“For the on-site program, we’ll create lessons that revolve around hands-on activities and/or real-world observations,” Folta says. “Each lesson will focus on a specific area in the Zoo. To supplement the lessons, we’ll develop ‘inquiry packs’ that include tools, artifacts, handouts and other materials that will further engage students and offer additional opportunities to learn using the Zoo’s facilities.

“And for the off-site program, we’ll produce a series of interactive social media or webinar events that’ll be accompanied by hands-on activities teachers can do in the classroom or the schoolyard, titled ‘Living with Nature.’ ”

The program’s formal launch date will be announced later this year, Folta said. Initially, lessons and activities will be pilot-tested through the Zoo’s existing partnership with the Asheboro City Schools and, in particular, Zoo School, an on-site public high school whose students assist with programs.

“Based on our observations and student/teacher feedback, we’ll adjust the curriculum prior to rolling out the program,” says Folta. “We’re excited to see how this program can support teaching science and environmental literacy in North Carolina, and we’re grateful to Wells Fargo for providing us with this opportunity.”  


About the North Carolina Zoo

At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world’s largest natural habitat Zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,600 animals and 52,000 plants that call our Park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature’s diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcomes everyone to join in our mission to protect nature’s diversity. Visit to begin your life-changing journey.


About the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.


NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919- 807-7300 or visit