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Zoomobile brings furry friends to MAES

MEYERSDALE - Education Specialists from the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium visited the Meyersdale Area Elementary School on November 1 to present a program called the “Rhythms of the Rainforest.” Students were given the opportunity to meet some fantastic creatures and learn about one of the most diverse and important regions of our planet. Rainforests cover a very small percentage of the Earth’s surface but support more than 50% of our planet’s plants and trees. This program was made possible through the Community Outreach programming at the Zoo, designed to “bring the Zoo to you with our Zoomobile.”

“Rhythms of the Rainforest” was made possible through the S.E.E.D. (Students Extra Educational Development) program. Every purchase at SHOP ‘n SAVE, made using a registered savings card, earns funds towards a S.E.E.D. program. 

When organizers learned of the program, they immediately knew it would be both educational and fun for students. 

“Students love animals and we thought this would be a great opportunity for students to see animals up close and educate students about animals that live in the rainforest,” explained MAES Principal Devin Pritts. 

Cautioning the children about loud noises startling the animals, the Zoomobile specialists brought out three rainforest animals - Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine, a Solomon Islands Prehensile-Tailed Skink and a Honduran Milk Snake. The specialists were Mandy Revak, Sonya Hantz and Ali Fogle.

“In 2018, our Zoomobile made over 300 trips and did over 450 programs, which reached over 31,000 people in the region. We have a 90 mile one way limit, so we don’t get out to Somerset that often. In 2019, Meyersdale Elementary was our only trip to Somerset County,” explained Revak.

The “Rhythms of the Rainforest” program served as the PBIS incentive for the second half of the first nine weeks. MAES implemented the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a way for schools to encourage good behavior. With PBIS, schools teach kids about behavior, just as they would teach about other subjects like reading or math. The focus of PBIS is prevention, not punishment.