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NC Zoo Keeper To Attend Polar Bear Leadership Camp

Posted on 10/05/2012

Asheboro, NC - North Carolina Zoo keeper Sara Monson will travel to the tundra near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, on October 7 for a week-long Keeper Leadership Camp sponsored by Polar Bears International (PBI), the world's leading polar bear conservation group.

The N.C. Zoo, a partner in PBI's network of Arctic Ambassador Centers, selected Monson for the prestigious camp based on her past outreach and community involvement on behalf of polar bear conservation. Monson will join 10 other zoo and aquarium professionals from across the U.S. and Canada.

"Keepers have the ability to reach a wide audience with a conservation message," said Kathryn Foat, PBI's vice president of conservation education and stewardship strategies. "Participants will spend a week in Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world, during the fall polar bear migration. They will learn about polar bears, climate change, and how each of us can help."

The experience will include several nights at the Tundra BuggyÒ Lodge, with polar bears just outside. Despite the remote location, participants will stay connected with the rest of the world through blog posts on the PBI website (www.polarbearsinternational.org). Campers will also learn how to create carbon-reduction programs in their communities and to inspire public involvement.

The Leadership Camp focuses on animal well-being and enrichment and how each participant can play a leadership role in carbon reduction and stewardship efforts. According to PBI officials, past graduates have inspired real change in their communities by taking part in roll-up-your-sleeves projects like the Acres for the Atmosphere initiative-a bi-national tree-planting effort created by participants-as well as action-oriented outreach programs through their zoos or aquariums.

"I'm honored to be selected for camp this year," Monson said. "I have a large task a head of me, but I have a lot of support from many Arctic Ambassadors at the North Carolina Zoo. I am so excited to learn about communicating climate change from experts who see the effects of it first hand. I have heard that camp changes you forever. I'm ready and excited for that change. Seeing polar bears in their natural environment will be a perk as well."

The N.C. Zoo was invited to send a representative to the camp due to its role as a PBI Arctic Ambassador Center (AAC). The centers educate the public about polar bears and climate change and play a leadership role in inspiring carbon reductions in their communities. They include more than 50 leading zoos, museums, science centers, and aquariums in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Monson noted that the zoo, along with the local chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers have scheduled another Acres for the Atmosphere tree planting for 8 a.m., Saturday, October 20, at Asheboro's YMCA.

"If we're serious about conserving polar bears and their ecosystem we need to act quickly," said Foat. "Our Leadership Camp graduates play an important role in inspiring people to make lifestyle changes that become part of a larger stewardship ethic."

The N.C. Zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee A. Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.

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