Virginia Zoo Names First Zooperlative Award Recipients

After careful consideration, the Virginia Zoo has chosen classrooms from Saint Patrick Catholic School and Cape Henry Collegiate as the first winners of the Zooperlative Award.

The Zooperlative Award recognizes Hampton Roads students from the 3rd – 5th grade and 6th – 8th grade levels for their outstanding contributions toward work that encompasses environmental impact, sustainability or conservation. Several classrooms submitted their annual projects for consideration, which were then judged by the Virginia Zoological Society’s Community Engagement Committee.

“The Virginia Zoo is proud to recognize these two area schools for their efforts to create meaningful projects to improve our local ecology and environment,” said Sue Roady, Chair of the Virginia Zoological Society’s Community Engagement Committee. “These two award-winning projects and the others we evaluated from area schools’ submissions are examples of the ongoing stewardship to the environment in Hampton Roads,” Roady added.

Dr. Richard Strauss’s students from Saint Patrick Catholic School were chosen for their greenspace projects. The class created a wildflower garden with soil retention, pollinator attractors, run-off protection and participated in hands-on learning about how different plants work together. The students also care for a beehive and recently started raising seed oysters. The garden not only has an impact on the students and school, but has encouraged several partnerships within the local community.

Ms. Rebecca Schnekser’s 4th grade class from Cape Henry Collegiate was selected for their trout project. The students are raising Brook trout, which is native to Virginia and is an indicator species of water quality. The class has created partnerships with local environmental organizations and studied the health of Virginia water sources to replicate the ideal environment for the trout to thrive in a habitat in their classroom until they are released this Spring.

Both winners will be presented with a custom plaque and hand-crafted Flip-Flop Animal created by Ocean Sole, a field trip to the Virginia Zoo and a pizza party for the class.