Dartmoor Zoo, renowned for its international conservation and education programmes, has recently welcomed 167 young women and schoolgirls to an evening of inspiring talks, expert advice, and close-up encounters with some of the zoo’s smaller amphibian and invertebrate residents.
Arranged by Women in STEM Plymouth (WISP), and sponsored by Babcock International, the event, which was designed to encourage school girls and young women into careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), was heralded as a tremendous success.
Individuals and families from Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall heard from Mike Shail of Careers South West about a range of training and career routes. They explored career exhibits from 30 South West STEM organisations including Devon Wildlife Trust, Devon the NHS, and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The students, aged between 11 and 18, also enjoyed a lively question and answer session with a panel of women in STEM from the University of Plymouth School of Biological and Marine Sciences, engineering firm Babcock International, and design and consultancy firm, Arcadis.
Interspersed with the expert presentations, students enjoyed the opportunity to visit Dartmoor Zoo’s big cat enclosures to meet Amur tigers, African lions and cheetahs. They also had the opportunity to experience a taste of life at the zoo as they handled corn snakes, stick insects and land snails.
Andy Robinson, WISP committee member and STEM Hub Officer at City College Plymouth, said: “This is the second young women in STEM careers fair that we’ve run for local students and I’m thrilled with the response from young people in the area. Women face unique challenges in entering STEM careers, from historical misconceptions about technical careers, to a lack of information about their options and, while we appreciate that not everyone who participates in WISP will end up pursuing a STEM career, we want every student to be able to make an informed decision about their future.”
Dartmoor Zoo Head of Discovery and Learning, Coral Jonas, said: “At Dartmoor Zoo, we’re fully committed to promoting conservation through education, training and volunteering and we’re delighted to support the WISP initiative to encourage more young women to pursue careers in STEM fields which, of course, include animal science. Careers in animal management are varied and highly rewarding and, by widening participation in this field of study, our research and conservation work will continue to evolve and species around the world will benefit.”
Dartmoor Zoo itself offers a range of educational experiences from pre-school and tailored curriculum visits, to higher education courses, including Zoo Animal Management levels 2 and 3, delivered in partnership with Duchy College.
Dartmoor Zoo was established in 2007 when Benjamin Mee and his family bought an ailing zoo. Since then Ben, his family and team have built the Zoo into the popular tourist attraction it is today. Ben wrote a book about his experience and in 2011 it was made into the Hollywood Film ‘We Bought a Zoo’ starring Matt Damon. In 2014 the Zoo became a charity, of which Ben is CEO. Today the Zoo is heavily involved in research, conservation and education projects to promote the welfare of animals and to enrich both the lives of humans and animals.
To find out more about Dartmoor Zoo and the educational and training opportunities on offer, visit www.dartmoorzoo.org.uk.
Pictures show: Some of the 167 young women and schoolgirls attending an evening of inspiring talks, expert advice, and close-up encounters with some of Dartmoor Zoo’s smaller amphibian and invertebrate residents, at a recent Women in STEM Plymouth (WISP) event, held at Dartmoor Zoo.
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