Like many people across the country who have been furloughed during the COVID crisis, Sarah Skebba was looking for a way to fill her time and further explore her passion for conservation, biology and ecology.
An educator for the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona, her job entails educating the public and volunteers about animals and the natural world. She had always harbored a longing to build a website so her outreach about protecting the environment could go further. “I wanted to reach more people and introduce them to the beauty and intricacy of animals and reveal fun facts that many people do not know,” she explained.
When her aunt Paulette Hamilton-Koehler, an Orleans/Niagara BOCES special education administrator, reached out to her to see if she would be willing to provide some education for BOCES' summer school program, it seemed like the perfect time to start working on her website www.edzoocating.com.
“I have always loved doing research for my education and career and I am fascinating by the weirdest details and I always thought it would be fun to share that,” Skebba said. “Building the website put me out of my comfort zone. It was exciting to think I could share the wonders of the animal kingdom, the mysteries of our ecosystems and the complex interactions and adaptations of species with others. Hopefully it will inspire people to take care of our planet.”
Although the website is not affiliated with the Phoenix Zoo, Skebba thanks her supervisor, coworkers and the zoo volunteers for what they have taught her about various animals. There are links to mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, fish, and articles on sustainable shopping, wildlife vocabulary, a blog on different environmental topics and classroom instruction.
She prides herself on keeping the website positive, saying her goals are “to share the love I have for animals and help people make informed decisions on being environmentally friendly. I am always willing to answer any questions adults or children have. I would love it if people suggest topics they would like to see me add. They can contact me through my website and I am also willing to share my video links if they request it.”
For Orleans/Niagara BOCES summer school, Skebba made special videos about various animals and she Zooms with teachers and students on a weekly basis to discuss the videos and answer any questions.
“Our theme for the extended school year is 'animals' (and) Sarah has been amazing with developing a movie for a different animal each week to teach the students,” Hamilton-Koehler said. “She then does two one-hour teaching sessions every Wednesday, one for the younger students and then another session for the older students. The students and staff love it and the kids are really engaged and have a lot of questions for her.”
Said Skebba, “Now that I am seeing kids engage in what I am doing, it is very inspiring. I think in order to protect our world and its animals, you have to make children the advocates for conservation. Kids want to change the world and I would love to be that person that helps them with that goal. ”
Lisa Bielmeier is the public relations director for Orleans/Niagara BOCES.