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Students highlight conservation work for Endangered Species Day

Denver Zoo hosts northern redbelly dace event for 2,500 elementary schoolers
In this file photo, Mikki McComb-Kobza holds a small aquarium with a few of the 1,000 to 2,000 northern redbelly dace were released in a pond in Lyons on Sept. 1, 2020. (Photo by Julie Baxter)

St. Vrain students spent Friday at the Denver Zoo educating students from across Colorado about the northern redbelly dace.

The Denver Zoo invited the St. Vrain Valley School District to celebrate the work students at the district are doing to help implement the reintroduction of the endangered fish species to the St. Vrain River in honor of National Endangered Species Day.

A total of 2,500 elementary students from across the Front Range attended the event at the zoo Friday, including 200 students representing the St. Vrain Valley schools. Another 30 high school student designers from the Innovation Center helped facilitate the activity, which also included the district’s Innovation Lab and hand-on activity stations for children.

The stations included demonstrations of sensors used to collect field data, remotely operated vehicles and AI cameras. Colorado Parks and Wildlife also had live fish onsite.

“Through Dace Day at Denver Zoo, our elementary students are able to realize possibilities for their future,” said Jayme Sneider, biosciences teacher at the Innovation Center, in a release. “They learn about conservation education relevant to their community and learn what they can be involved in and how they can give back to their community.”

Boulder County Parks and Open Space, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Denver Zoo, the Innovation Center, Ocean First Institute, UNAVCO and graduate students with University of Colorado Boulder have partnered to implement the reintroduction of this fish while educating students about the scientific process and the importance of the successful restoration of threatened species.