NEW YORK (June 16, 2009) Exchanging their books and pencils for camera and tripod, a group of 7th graders from the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation (UASWC) today released an engaging short video that captures the innovative character of their school and highlights their unique access to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, its animals and staff.

Starring tigers, gorillas, and sea lions, along with the student filmmakers and even their principal, the video will be used as a recruiting tool for this unique school that uses the Bronx Zoo as its classroom.

The Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation opened in September 2007 in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to provide underserved Bronx youth with a middle school education focused on wildlife science and conservation. Students have access to the Bronx Zoo as a living laboratory and WCS researchers as mentors, speakers and guests. At UASWC, students learn how to ask questions within a scientific-inquiry method, conduct research, collect data, and determine whether their answers are right or wrong.

The short video was produced by UASWC students Christina Carr, Julian Figueroa, Zelfena Harripersaud, Elesia Mejia, Joan Paulino, Marlon Rodriguez and John Yates as part of the school’s Lunch with Passionate Professionals (LWPP) program.

“We were really excited to have an opportunity to create this video ourselves for our school,” said co-director and narrator Elesia Mejia, 12. “I feel like this is a career I hadn’t considered before that now I’m really excited about pursuing.”

The students were instructed in basic filmmaking skills by WCS senior producer Natalie Cash and WCS staff videographer Luke Groskin in biweekly sessions held during the 2008 fall semester, arranged by UASWC Partnerships Coordinator Lily Ng and Social Worker and Mentor Coordinator Ray Godwin, Jr. The video was produced on location at the school and the Bronx Zoo during the 2009 spring semester.

“The partnership between UASWC and WCS has been an essential part in our creating a rigorous program with accelerated academics in math and science,” said Principal Mark Ossenheimer. “Hands-on projects that have students apply their knowledge create a learning environment of curiosity and engagement. This film was an amazing project for our students, and has spurred several to pursue further work in film studies. We are excited to use this film in recruiting new students.”

WCS Director of Education programs Don Lisowy said, “The school provides a unique opportunity for students in the Bronx to learn about wild places, both local and abroad, wildlife and how they can positively impact local environmental issues. For WCS, it is an opportunity to support the Bronx Community and connect people to wildlife by providing a solid science and wildlife science education to the students while building a constituency for conservation.”

The students will premiere their film to the entire school this evening at the UASWC Science Fair where sixth graders will discuss Animal Behavioral Enrichment and seventh graders will present their Exhibit Design Projects.

In 1929, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo established the first and longest operating Education Department of any zoo in the country. Today, WCS provides educational services to more than two million people in the New York metro area, trains 13,500 New York City teachers, and educates hundreds of thousands of students in 50 states and 14 countries. WCS has won more Education Awards from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) than any other zoological institution and is the only informal science institution with comprehensive curricular programs that have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for their outstanding educational merit.

UASWC is part of a network of schools founded by the Urban Assembly, a non-profit group that helps create college prep schools in under-served neighborhoods.

The video can be viewed at

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit:

Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682;
John Delaney: (1-718-220-3275;