Teaching Safari

Fall 2023 Teaching Safari Web Banner

Inspire conservation leadership
and life-long learning in your classroom...

Join us on the Fall 2023 Teaching Safari!

Free professional learning program for K-12 educators.
Earn 2 graduate credit semester hours (Dominican University) or
35 professional development hours. 

CLICK to Apply

  Application window is open until August 23, 2023. Please apply early; spaces fill quickly.


On the Brookfield Zoo Teaching Safari, you will:
Rhino Photo

  • Enhance your content knowledge of conservation, animals, and ecosystems.
  • Explore effective, equity-minded classroom strategies to support student inquiry, critical thinking, conceptual understanding, argumentation based on evidence, student ownership, and engagement in all subject areas.
  • Discover new ways to develop conservation awareness in your students and to enrich learning through zoo resources and exhibits.
  • Reflect on your classroom practice, engage in discussion with other educators, and receive individualized, written feedback from experienced zoo educator program facilitator on a lesson plan that you create and revise during this program.
  • Connect and expand your professional learning community by becoming a part of our Brookfield Zoo Teaching Safari Network and enjoy free registrations for designated online and in-person professional development events.
  • Teaching Safari participants who complete all course requirements may elect to receive 35 free professional development hours and a $200 stipend or two(2) free graduate semester hours from Dominican University.* Participants who complete the Safari will also receive a Certificate of Completion from Brookfield Zoo and four (4) complimentary zoo passes for immediate family.

Content and strategies explored on the Teaching Safari are informed by Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and the Danielson Framework. (Although the Teaching Safari is targeted to grades 3-8, strategies can be adapted for students at all K-12 grade levels.)

The Teaching Safari consists of four full-day, onsite sessions at Brookfield Zoo (two weekdays and two Saturdays) and two 60-minute virtual sessions. In addition to attending and participating in these classes, participants will (1) engage in ongoing reflection on professional growth, and (2) create and revise a lesson plan applying program content to practice.

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*IEIN number, documentation of attendance at all sessions per Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) guidelines, and completion of reflections/lesson plans per rubric are required for professional development hours or semester hour credit. Certificate, stipend (for participants electing professional development hours), zoo passes, and network benefits will be awarded upon completion of all program requirements. 

Dominican University Home | Dominican University

Brookfield Zoo Teacher Network members will receive a 20% discount on Web+ Classes in the Advanced Inquiry Program (“AIP”) Master's Program. AIP is a master's degree program offered by Brookfield Zoo in partnership with Miami University, Ohio. The AIP Master's degree program focuses on education, sustainability, and local conservation actions. For more information, contact Agnes.Kovacs@czs.org.



Teaching Safari Session Itinerary:

This Fall 2023, our safari begins with a two-day expedition focused on Brookfield Zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness, inhabited by brown bears, polar bears, bison, and the bald eagle! As you learn about these amazing animals, you will explore a variety of inquiry-based, student-centered teaching strategies that you can apply in your classroom across subject areas.

Teachers will also participate in an onsite, two-day "variety expedition" adventure combining educator professional development to support student learning as we explore The Swamp, The Living Coast, Hamill Family Wild Encounters, Hamill Family Play Zoo, and other animal habitats throughout the zoo.

Onsite Days 1 & 2


Great Bear Wilderness Expedition

Two full days at Brookfield Zoo:

Day 1

  • Introduction: What is Conservation Leadership? Developing Conceptual Understanding Through Equity-Based, Student-Centered Teaching 
  • Observing Bears as Phenomena: A Gateway to Inquiry and Problem-Based Learning 

Day 2

  • Brown Bear “Food for Thought”: Sensemaking with Mathematical Data and Scientific Models
  • A Habitat for Bears in The Human Heart: Exploring Diverse Perspectives Through Art and Empathy 


Onsite Days 3 & 4


Zoo Variety

Two more full days at Brookfield Zoo:

Day 3

  • The Swamp - Swamp Music: Keeping Learning “In Tune” with Student Schema, Language, and Experience.
  • The Living Coast - Transform "Ho-Hum" Science Activities with Humboldt Penguins: Planning and Carrying Out Student-Centered Investigations Through Inquiry 

Day 4

  • Hamill Family Play Zoo & Hamill Family Wild Encounters - Strategies for Empowering Students to Access and Take Ownership of Learning in School and Beyond. 
  • Big Cats - Big Cats & Big Learning: Building Collaboration and Understanding through Student-Centered Assessment. 

Choose between 2 Cohort Schedules to meet your classroom and professional learning needs:

 We encourage two or more educators to register from the same school to help support your professional learning community. Because 2 of the 4 classes meet on weekdays, Principal/Supervisor approval is required for participation in the Teaching Safari.

Please select the links below to view Fall 2023 cohort schedules:

Ready to Safari?

The Teaching Safari program is presented by the Institute for Science Teaching Excellence (ISTE) at Brookfield Zoo to support educators in teaching Science and Conservation Leadership. Conservation Leadership encompasses not only an understanding of animals and ecosystems, but empathy, joy, and appreciation for the natural world shared in a spirit of equity and stewardship. We look forward to taking this safari with you!

 If you are interested in receiving information about upcoming Teaching Safari opportunities and professional development programs at Brookfield Zoo, please provide your contact information here: 

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Have questions? 

If you have questions, please contact Patsy Steinmeyer at ISTE@czs.org.

The Institute of Science Teaching Excellence is made possible in part by support from: Polk Bros. Foundation, the Christopher Family Foundation, Nicor Gas, Northrop Grumman, and State Farm®.

Graduate credit provided by: