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Episode 205: March 18, 2024

Editor Joe Bednar talks with Sarah Tsitso, executive director of the Forest Park Zoo

Today’s zoos — the best ones, anyway — have come a long way from what they used to be, and the Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center is a prime example, honing over the years its focus on education, conservation, and rehabilitation, and bringing much of that education into the community through its programs. On the next episode of BusinessTalk, BusinessWest Editor Joe Bednar talks with Sarah Tsitso, executive director of the Forest Park Zoo, about her passion for animal welfare, the challenges of funding a year-round operation that’s open to the public for only five months, and how the organization is helping to cultivate the next generation of animal-care professionals — not to mention the next generation of families making new memories together. It’s must listening, so tune in to BusinessTalk, a podcast presented by BusinessWest and sponsored by PeoplesBank.

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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Zoo in Forest Park will host its Kindergarten Kickoff, an event for incoming Springfield kindergartners, on Saturday, Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The free event, presented by Teddy Bear Pools & Spas, will not only include free entrance to the zoo for Springfield kindergartners and one caregiver, but it also offers a chance for children to practice skills needed to succeed in their first year of elementary school.

Community partners such as the Springfield Public Library and the Connecticut Science Center will be in attendance to help the children practice essential skills, such as writing their name, cutting a shape, and identifying colors. At the start of the event, all children will receive a free backpack. After completing each skill, they will collect a school item to fill their new bag. At the end of the event, children will leave with a backpack full of school supplies and the confidence to head into the new year.

Pre-registration for Kindergarten Kickoff is required to attend, and spots are extremely limited. Attendees must show proof of Springfield residency upon check-in with either a valid ID or a welcome letter from their child’s school. Admission for additional guests can be purchased at a discounted rate. Registration is available at www.forestparkzoo.org/kko23.

“This event encourages students to explore skills they will perfect in the upcoming school year while hopefully washing away the worry of starting kindergarten,” said Caroline Cay Adams, director of Education at the Zoo in Forest Park. “We are so grateful to our amazing community partners for their dedication to this event and cannot wait to meet these young scholars on Aug. 12.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Caroline Cay Adams, education director for The Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center, received the Janet McCoy Excellence in Public Education Award from the American Association of Zookeepers during a virtual presentation held Aug. 31.


Adams was honored for her work creating Kids Go Wild, a multi-week, hands-on education program that is delivered to children in schools and after school programs throughout Western Mass., specifically targeting at-risk youth.


“We are so proud of the work Caroline is doing to bring these important resources to youth in our community,” said Sarah Tsitso, executive director of the the Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center. “While she certainly deserves recognition for this incredible program she created — from scratch, I might add — it’s only one of the many wonderful educational opportunities she provides for children across our region. We are so fortunate to have her as a key member of our team.”


Kids Go Wild provides a fun, interactive way for children to learn about different animal species through cross-hatched science, literacy and art lessons, with each lesson meeting educational standards set by the Mass. Board of Education. During the pandemic, Adams adapted Kids Go Wild into a virtual program, showcasing the flexibility and versatility of the program.


“It has been such a rewarding experience to visit classrooms with the Kids Go Wild program,” said Adams. “I have seen the children engage with the lessons while showing compassion and care for the animal ambassadors that accompany me.”


“I am honored to be the recipient of this year’s Janet McCoy Excellence in Public Education Award,” Adams added. “Janet McCoy served the zookeeper community as a leader for over 30 years in various roles, focusing much of her time on public education. I have known for most of my life that I wanted to work closely with animals and children, and I am so lucky that I am able to do that in my current role.”