It may have been one of the hottest days in July, but NYFA’s Environmental Biology students were not daunted. It was the day of their “Biodiversity” lecture, but instead of sitting in a class reading slides and looking at pictures of plants and animals on a TV screen, instructor Camille Boag took them to the Los Angeles Zoo. Here, they could experience spectacular examples of our earth’s biodiversity much more profoundly.
While the first 20 minutes of the field trip found the group settled in around some tables near the harbor seal exhibit, discussing the fundamentals of Biodiversity and practicing some scientific tactics of measuring it, the remaining two hours were full of exploring the zoo’s hundreds of species on exhibit.
The trip was largely a visual tour, aimed to highlight the great diversity found within and among our planet’s biomes. But students were also responsible for finding specific species, such as an endangered species (and looking up why it is endangered), a California local species, a species from a biodiversity “hot spot,” and a species with a particularly well-suited adaptation for its habitat, in a sort of zoo-wide scavenger hunt. This kept the students focused and engaged.
NYFA student Annie Song spoke about the trip, “I saw animals I’d never even heard of. Perhaps my favorite part was the special reservoir for endangered animals. I learned what caused them to be in their current state. If we were just in the classroom I would see less and I wouldn’t feel the same call to ‘save the environment’ as I did being at the zoo and seeing it with my own eyes.”
Boag’s incentive for this trip is based on the idea that a more intimate experience with our planet’s animals will foster more of a commitment to help conserve them. Who knows, maybe one of her students will make a wildlife documentary one day!