Migrant Education Program Adapts to Remote Learning

Migrant Education Program Screenshot

Among the Zoo programs that have been retooled for remote participation during the Zoo closure is the Migrant Education Program (MEP). Designed to respond to the educational and health needs of migrant children ages 3 to 21, the MEP augments supplemental services already provided through the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). It offers opportunities to work on basic skills in environments that are engaging and inspiring—one of which is the L.A. Zoo, where students are encouraged to explore animal information, habitat design, and conservation.

In order to create a virtual version of the MEP, Curator of Education Coral Barriero began meeting with Peter Serino and Dr. Victor Gonzalez of the LAUSD’s Beyond the Bell Expanded Day Programs as soon as the Safer at Home order went into effect in March. Starting at the end of April, Coral met online weekly with four different classes in grades 3 through 6 with a total of 90 participants. The session wrapped up in mid-July.

“We weren’t sure how this would turn out since the students were used to visiting the Zoo,” Coral comments. “But I was willing to try anything in order to connect with them. We’ve been so successful with MEP in the past, I wanted the kids to have some Zoo experience, even if it was online. When we started planning, I couldn’t be sure that we would even be allowed back on grounds, so I had to be as creative as possible while working from home.”

An MEP highlight is the final project expo where the students display the zoo habitat dioramas that they have designed and created over the course of the program. This year, they produced different types of projects. Some stuck to the traditional exhibit projects while others experimented with digital media, producing video presentations that ranged from formal talks to lively animations, poster presentations, an animal newscast, and a puppet show. You can enjoy some of the presentations below.

“In the end, it all worked out with the magic of four wonderful LAUSD teachers and Zoo staff who were more than willing to participate with virtual keeper talks,” Coral concludes. “Francisco Moran, Kim Garcia, Rosalio Rubio, Laura Barnard, and Mickey Thompson helped me with some of the Zoom talks. Everyone really rose to the occasion, leaving nothing out and providing the students with engaging and informative programming. They had a blast—and so did I!”

“Animal News with Anderson Lemon” was produced by theater teacher Arturo Avina of the LAUSD Arts Education Branch.

José M., a student in Ruth Navarro’s 5th grade class, directed “Orangutan Studies Documentary.”

Janelly Z. from Lili Navarro’s 4th grade class submitted a colorful poster presentation about flamingos.

Oscar P., also from Lili Navarro’s 4th grade class, used puppetry to share his flamingo facts in a production titled “Flamingos: The Best Pink Animal Out There.”