Education Center

Join the Adventure & Inspire the Next Generation

For nearly 150 years, the Zoo has connected people with wildlife to inspire a love and appreciation for the environment and its animals. When you participate in an education program at the Zoo, you experience moments that tell a story and create connections that last a lifetime. It is through these unique encounters that we create future leaders with a desire to protect and save species.


Our new net-zero Education Center will improve upon our current world-class environmental and conservation education programming. Whether you are a Zoocamper, a preschool student, a field trip class, a teacher training program, a scouting troop or a university Zoology student - this will be a space where STEM programming will engage all segments of our community as active partners in conservation. The Zoo's unique wildlife and outdoor resources allow our educators to provide experiences that advance scientific literacy, while inspiring wonder, awe, empathy, curiosity, and an emotional connection to wildlife, wild places, and to each other.

Our goal is to raise $6 million through the generosity of individuals, foundations, and corporations who want to be part of creating the next generation of conservation leaders. With your help, New England’s youth can truly become the leaders in creating a sustainable planet. To date we have raised $3.5M towards this goal.


The net-zero Education Center will be located at the front of the Zoo to allow ease of access for all program participants.  Inside, “smart” classroom spaces will host all the exceptional STEM-based programs the Zoo offers along with a new accredited preschool.  New state-of-the art animal holdings will give the best homes to the Zoo’s 60 animal ambassadors. Animal ambassadors are education animals that help inspire a connection to wildlife. On the second floor, educator offices, a library and reception space will give the Zoo’s 20 full time educators a space to plan and learn.  Outside, dedicated playspaces for the preschool classroom and camp programs will encourage the power of play. 


Alex Brown - Education and Stewardship Assistant for The Nature Conservancy:

I basically grew up at the Zoo! I started going toZoo Camp when I was 4, moved ontoteen programs, and thenIbecame aZooCamp counselor,performer,andAmbassador Animal Handler. These experiences changed me from being a shy kid tosomeone whonow influencesand excites others about conservation.I saw myself inthe campers as well as the visitors, and was able to work with them in a way thatmade them feel comfortable and excited.Iwent on to get a degree in CaptiveWildlife Care&Education,and workfor the Nature Conservancyon Block Island.Every day is new way for me to pay it forward.I lead teen groupsand volunteers,maintain trails, and do field research.The highlight of my summer was when Icaught and confirmed the first sighting ofa new frog species on the island. I lovehaving an impact on others--and I know that I'm able to do thisbecause ofmyexperiences at the Zoo.

"I love having an impact on others and making a difference, sharing the passion Ilearnedfrom my mentors at the Zoo."


Josh Johnston - Director of Middle Grades at The Learning Community Charter School, Central Falls:

We starteda middlegradesprogramcalled Community Responsibility Blocks thatthat revolves around community responsibility. Our mission is to empowerstudentsto use their voices, assume community responsibility, and takesocial action. Weinviteoutside partners towork with ourstudentstohelp themgrow as communitymembers by becomingmore aware of the outside worldand strengthening theirrelationships with each other as members of new communities. OurprogramwithRWPZ has been successful in those goals, and the students love it, too.The resultsfor their class,Pets and Vets,havelived up to our biggest hopes and dreams. Manystudents already passionately care about animals, but as a result of this class,students now have the tools and knowledge to act on that passion.They want totake action and take care of the animal members of their community.At the end ofthe year,thekidstook the initiativeto promote a free spay and neuter clinic in theirneighborhood.Theymade flyers, assigned jobs, and even gave a brief talk to eachhomeroom about the importance of the free clinic.This was a perfect example ofhowthe Zoo program has empowered these kidstohave animpact on theircommunities.

"Our partnership with the Zoo empowered students to be strong advocates andprotect the animal members of their communities. They have more ways to beempathetic activists and protect our environment."


Samson 12, Freyja 9, and Mom Alyson Lombard. Zoo Campers, Nature Swappers, and Eco Agent Family:

We heard other home schoolers talk about the Nature Swap program and jumpedatthe chance to participate.As a mom, I especially like the Nature Swap because it's agreat opportunity for the kids to write.You can bring things in that you find onnature walks but you can alsoswapyour ownnaturejournals. This opportunity hasmotivatedthe kids to overcome their hesitancy about writing.It's great to see themsomotivated to do projects.As Eco Agentswecreateda programwithin ourcommunity to teach people about rainforests.The Zoo gave us instructions formaking a keystone species game using a Jenga set,which we made and played withpeople who came to our event. Samson also made his own game to teach peopleabout key things they can do to save the rainforest.Samson, Freyja, and their friendsalsocreated a video about saving the rainforestsandput it on the Internet.

Freyja: What I love best about Nature Swap is that I can bring something in andswap it for something I've been saving upfor. One time I wrote a little book on seaturtles and traded that in. I also traded a felted tarsier that I made. One of myfavorite thingsI got isa moose femur. I love showing ittomy friends. We find newthings every time we go.

Samson:I love ourquests inside and outside the Zoo,and writing about them. Imade areally cool card game about animals and traded it in for a rare turtle shell.My friends like to come over and see the new things Ihave.

"My bedroom is more like a nature museum with books, bones, shells, and pinnedinsects.Who knows what I'll find next."

Thank you to these generous donors

As of December 16, 2019, we have raised over $3.5M towards our $6M goal. This has been made possible through the generosity of these wonderful supporters:

City of Providence
Sophie F. Danforth
Norman and Rosalie Fain Family Foundation
Mr. Bruce Ferguson
Betsey A. Kilmartin
Tony & Edie Kubica
Laura J. Niles Foundation
Joanne M. Quinn
Pamela D. Sherer, PhD
Nordson Corporation Foundation

Naming opportunities

Roger Williams Park Zoo wishes to make a public and enduring record of those who have invested generously to strengthen the Zoo as a cultural, scientific and educational attraction worthy of the community it serves. Gifts can be made in memory or honor of a loved one or anonymously and will be recognized as such.

Full Naming Rights to the building.................... $1,000,000

Accredited Preschool Program (reserved)........ $250,000

Library & Resource Center................................ $100,000

Animal Ambassador Holding............................. $75,000

Classroom Spaces (4/5 available)..................... $50,000/ea.

Dedicated Preschool Play Space....................... $50,000

Camp Free Play Area......................................... $50,000

Educator Reception............................................ $50,000

Educator Open Offices....................................... $50,000

Educator Offices (6/6 available)......................... $25,000/ea.

Donor Wall Recognition...................................... $2,500+

Want more information on how you can make a difference?

Contact Gina Cantelmo at or call 401-785-3510 x337.