As Minnesota’s state Zoo, we are committed to ensuring that our programs are accessible to all our citizens – regardless of age, geographic location, disability or background. “Zoo Unlimited” is our community outreach and access initiative that unites a wide range of programs and policies designed to ensure every Minnesotan has unlimited opportunities to form stronger connections with the natural world. Legacy funds help us implement this program bridge barriers that keep people from connecting with all the Zoo has to offer.
These funds are used for financial monitoring and oversight of the Minnesota Zoo’s legacy funds, including regular review of legacy fund expenditures, financial reporting, budget management, and assisting program staff in work planning for legacy projects. This amount also includes human resource and IT support for legacy funds, as appropriate.
Legacy funding has allowed the Zoo to expand our education programs, both at the Zoo and throughout the state. By expanding existing programs and developing new programs we are able to reach a broader audience. We are increasing offerings for all ages in many different ways. Public opportunities to interact with Zoo staff have increased, and continue to expand. We are able to offer new programing to our guests, taking advantage of the new Target Learning Center space. The arts are being used, including theater, sculpture, and other media.
Educating Minnesotans about conservation issues and how they can engage in conservation activities is critical to the stewardship of our State’s natural resources. Legacy funds have been used to create new programs and expand existing activities to bring zoo guests and citizens statewide in close contact with animals and the ways in which people can participate in conservation in their own backyard. Program highlights include:
In partnership with the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute, scientists and veterinarians from the Zoo are tracking moose in northeastern Minnesota to better understand their habitat and habits. This project will result in management recommendations to enable Minnesota’s moose population to be sustained into the future.
In partnership with other conservation agencies and organizations, the Zoo aims to prevent the extinction of Minnesota’s native prairie butterflies.
In July 2000 the Minnesota Zoo opened the Wells Fargo Family Farm to focus attention on the past, present, and possible future of the Minnesota family farm. Since that time, millions have visited the farm to learn about our farming heritage.
Farming is at the heart of Minnesota’s history and development, yet today more than half of all Minnesotans live in urban or suburban settings with little or no exposure to Minnesota’s agricultural history or culture. The Wells Fargo Family Farm provides an opportunity for the Zoo’s 1.3 million guests to experience a working farm, directly interact with farm staff and animals, and learn to appreciate agricultural food production.
Minnesota has long been committed to preserving its natural heritage. In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Minnesota, and other conservation organizations, the Minnesota Zoo plays a significant role in these preservation efforts by addressing pressing wildlife conservation issues important to our State. Legacy funds allow the Minnesota Zoo to expand its field conservation and educational programs with a focus on animals and habitats closely aligned with Minnesota’s cultural identity.
The Arts Education in Minnesota Schools Research Project is surveying all public and private schools to collect baseline data on the status of arts education statewide to serve as a resource for making data-driven decisions. A national research and evaluation company, Quadrant Arts Education Research, is conducting the study, comprised of three elements.
This new initiative aims to increase student achievement in and through the arts in nine west-central Minnesota schools. With the ultimate goal of positively impacting the learning of more than 1,500 students this year in the Lakes Country region, 40 teachers in the arts and in other content areas are engaged in professional development, curriculum development, and assessment literacy, leading to the development and implementation of arts-integrated lessons and units tied to the Minnesota Academic Standards.
The Perpich Arts Integration Network of Teachers (PAINT) fosters collaborative arts integration in Minnesota through K-12 teacher professional development and funding to schools. With Perpich Center facilitation, teacher teams develop and implement arts-integrated lessons and units. PAINT program components include:
Turnaround Arts: Minnesota supports low performing schools in using the arts as a tool for improvement. Participating schools have demonstrated increased academic achievement, increased student and family engagement, and improved school culture and climate. At the national level Turnaround Arts is a signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Turnaround Arts: Minnesota is run by Perpich Center for Arts Education and works with schools pre-K through 8th grade.
Looking at Minnesota’s heritage of land stewardship, preservation and restoration, Legacy funding is allowing the Zoo to use our 485 acres to demonstrate these practices and educate the public.
An overall site plan has been developed. We have accelerated our buckthorn removal on site. We are also in the process of developing a demonstration prairie plot which will provide the opportunity for Zoo guests to connect with this rare and important part of Minnesota’s natural history.
The Minnesota Zoo’s site – 485 acres of land in Dakota county – is a state treasure that includes a diverse array of habitants including vernal pools, sedge meadows, oak woodlands, and northern rich fens. More than half of this is undeveloped wildlife habitat which, thanks to Legacy funding, is now being explored by zoo staff and guests in order to educate citizens about the wild animals and wild places native to our state and the importance of caring for and conserving these resources.