Let’s talk about love: setting the foundations for lifelong love and care towards the environment (case study: Early Childhood Environmental Education in a Zoo-based setting)

Ms Jessica Brown1, Ms Bianca Dallan1

1Zoos Victoria


Let’s talk about love.

Early Childhood is arguably the most important stage of a child’s development – cognitively, emotionally and physically.  When thinking about early childhood environmental education, the emotional connections that young children build towards wildlife and the natural environment, could affect their relationship with nature in the long-term.

A new conservation-based Kindergarten program at Melbourne Zoo aims to foster love towards three little-known, critically endangered Australian species that need our help– the Helmeted Honeyeater, Eastern Barred Bandicoot and Corroboree Frog.

Through outdoor play-based learning, story-telling and song, the program unabashedly aims to develop wildlife-friendly and pro-conservation values – love of the natural world – within its Early Childhood participants.

Come and listen to the pedagogy and design concepts behind the Early Childhood Environmental Education program “Wild Explorers Kindergarten and Wild Explorers F to Grade 2” and how it links to the EYLF – the concepts of this case study could be replicated in your setting.


Jess Brown is lucky enough to be an Education Officer at Melbourne Zoo and the program developer of the Zoo’s Education for Conservation Kindergarten program and the coordinator of the Keeper Kids early-childhood play-space.  Jess feels incredibly passionate about connecting young children  to nature, helping children to build pro-conservation values and environmental care through play.  Jess studied a B.A of Nature Tourism at Bendigo La Trobe, Grad Cert. English Literary Studies at Uni Melbourne, Grad Dip Education (Primary) at Deakin and Grad Cert. Education (Early Childhood) at Uni Notre Dame.  Out of work, Jess has a life-long passion for conservation, nature and outdoor adventures and enjoys nothing more than escaping into the wilderness with her fiancé on a hiking or mountain biking adventure.

About the Association

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA) was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

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