LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Rock Zoo and the EAST Initiative announced Thursday that 16 projects from 10 schools around the Natural State have been chosen to participate in Project Zoo for the upcoming year.

Project Zoo is designed for students in 3rd through 12th grades who are participating in an EAST program at their school. The winners were selected from over 50 project proposals that were submitted.

The program partners the Little Rock Zoo with applicants interested in utilizing their classroom’s resources and time to help solve challenges at the Zoo.

Schools selected to participate this year include:

  • Armorel High School (Blytheville)
  • Buffalo Island Central High School (Monette)
  • Don Roberts Elementary School (Little Rock)
  • Dover High School
  • Hamburg Middle School
  • Hot Springs Junior Academy
  • North Little Rock Middle School
  • Parson Hills Elementary School (Springdale)
  • Sulphur Rock Magnet Elementary School
  • Washington Junior High School (Bentonville)

Jessica Deavult, the Zoo’s Conservation Education Manager, said that solving real-world problems at the Zoo is at the heart of the Project’s mission.

“Students submitted some very compelling proposals this year,” Deavult said. “A few teams even showed up for interviews with basic prototypes or example materials.”

Selected schools will work closely with Zoo staff members through the end of the school year to complete these projects and then hand them off to the Zoo for use.

“We saw a lot of confidence from the students as well as creative problem solving,” Deavult stated. “There were great conversations taking place as Zoo staff helped hone in on the scope and direction of the projects.”

Fred Rickert, EAST Program Coordinator for Special Projects said that working with the Little Rock Zoo has provided well-defined problems for students to solve.

“The Little Rock Zoo has been an exceptional partner for EAST for several years,” Rickert said. “The past two years, we have seen a significant increase in relevant prompts from several of the keepers at the zoo. This provides not only a knowledgeable client for our students with whom to work but also well-defined problems in a real world setting for our EAST students to solve.”

The EAST Initiative is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Little Rock that started in 1996. EAST now has programs in more than 250 schools across three states that offer year-round training to both students and teachers. To learn more, visit them online at