Nat Geo Picks Schools For 'Big Cats' Cultural Exchange

U.S. Students Will Work With African Peers to 'Cause An Uproar'

Four public schools in New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Salt Lake City have been selected to participate in a unique cross-cultural initiative, National Geographic's Big Cats Sister School Program.

Beginning in fall 2012, the program will pair the U.S. schools with schools in Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana under the shared theme of big cat conservation.

Students in all four countries will learn why big cats are important to the ecosystem and how they each perceive big cats in their own countries, using photos, letters, essays, stories, virtual assemblies and other forms of digital media to connect.

The student groups will also interact with National Geographic conservationists and Nat Geo Wild television channel talent to raise awareness about the severe decline of the big cat population in the wild. The U.S. students will create and conduct high-profile activities in their schools and communities to spread the word about the significance and scope of this crisis.

Big cats are victims of conflict with humans and habitat loss or degradation. National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative is a long-term commitment to halt the decline of these iconic animals in the wild through on-the-ground conservation projects, education and a global public awareness campaign. The Big Cats Sister School Program, launched by the National Geographic Society and Nat Geo Wild, provides teachers and students an ongoing opportunity to "Cause An Uproar" to help save big cats throughout the school year as well as engage in a cultural exchange.

The four U.S. schools were selected through an application process in which they highlighted how they would raise awareness of big cats within their schools and communities. The schools are:

  • P.S. 205 Fiorello H. Laguardia School, Bronx, New York City Department of Education -- District 10.
  • Hill-Freedman World Academy, School District of Philadelphia.
  • Compton Drew Investigative Learning Center, St. Louis Board of Education.
  • Clayton Middle School, Salt Lake City School District.

The four schools in Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana were identified by National Geographic field researchers. They are:

  • Lpus Leluai Primary School, Westgate Conservancy, Kenya.
  • Loibor Siret Primary School, Loibor Siret, Tanzania.
  • Malinzaga Primary School, Ruaha, Tanzania.
  • Gudigwa Primary School, Gudigwa, Botswana.

The Big Cats Sister School Program is geared toward enhancing school spirit among participating students by connecting children with other children in a faraway part of the world. The program provides much needed school supplies to schools and children in Africa and demonstrates support, charity and goodwill in these regions.

Throughout the school year, the Big Cats Sister Schools will utilize free online multimedia activities and education resources provided by National Geographic Education and a variety of programming elements from Nat Geo Wild's big cats-related films. Students will conduct awareness activities in their schools and communities to "Cause An Uproar" to help save big cats.

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