Melbourne Zoo Education Team

Meet the team leading conservation education at Melbourne Zoo.

Michelle Howard

Manager       

From walking with Rhino Fund Uganda Rangers amongst Southern White Rhinos to monitoring Eastern Barred Bandicoots in the Woodlands grasslands of Victoria, I am reminded every day of the wonders of the natural world and the important role we all play in conserving it.

As an Environmental Educator that has taught in both Secondary Schools and at the Zoo for a number of years, I have the privilege of working with a dynamic and passionate team of Zoo Educators that engage students and their teachers in Education for Conservation. All striving to make a difference for the natural world.

Amanda Knights

Teacher           

My connection to wildlife was strengthened when I visited Costa Rica to help protect Leatherback Turtles. I will never forget this incredible experience! This passion for animals was accompanied by a passion for drama. I studied Performing Arts and Science at Uni. Working at the Zoo is the perfect way to merge these passions! We use puppets of critically endangered species to connect students to their stories.

It is inspiring that the students I teach at Werribee and Melbourne Zoo could discover solutions that help save wildlife all around the world.

Andrew Eadon

Teacher

I was told never to work with kids and animals. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I found that most of my formal teaching career I did just that. After 23 years of teaching, I could not recommend a more exciting and vibrant combination of unpredictable enthusiasm. Working alongside classroom teachers and students, I am inspired by their solutions to some challenging environmental dilemmas. Being able to empower students to create change in their school or wider community makes for a very privileged and rewarding role at Melbourne Zoo.

Brianna 

Teacher       

I am one of the luckiest people I know, because I enjoy two roles at Zoos Victoria; educating students in Education for Conservation and connecting with the public as well as a member of the Zoo Encounters and Presentations team.

I studied Arts and Education at Murdoch University in Perth, after which I spent four years teaching at a high school before moving to Melbourne and finding this incredible role at the zoo.

I feel fortunate every single day that I work here and aim to inspire every student with storytelling and humour.

Catherine Jessop

Teacher          

As a hiker, camper, cyclist and sea kayaker, I have travelled through amazing natural environments. These experiences have contributed greatly towards my awe and respect for the finely balanced, diverse and sophisticated eco-systems on Earth. Recently, I have been watching, with admiration, as young people around the world stand up for their future and demand a biodiverse and healthy planet. My hope is that governments and adults support this action and lead us towards a secure future where life on Earth is highly regarded and protected.

Claire Priestley

Teacher              

Growing up on a farm, I spent my childhood immersed in nature, surrounded by Australian fauna and flora. My sense of appreciation, awe and affinity with the natural world has remained a constant and I am passionate about igniting wonder and curiosity in others. 

My career path has seen me work in a broad range of environmental and educational settings.

I really enjoy empowering students to make a difference in their environment and advocate for a sustainable future. I feel fortunate to work in education at Melbourne Zoo where I frequently witness the passionate, innovative and creative minds of students.

Francesca Lennie

Teacher          

I have two main passions in life – Education and Conservation. For the past five years, I have worked as a Primary School Teacher. Before that, I spent a lot of my life travelling the world working with a variety of animals from Elephants to Fossa, skinks and crabs. Working with Zoos Victoria has allowed me to mix my two passions.

Once I get an idea into my head, I will work tirelessly to see it come to life.  I truly believe that a sustainable future is attainable and the key to it… is us. 

Frazer Thorpe

Teacher

I was the sort of kid asking, what is that? How does that work? Why does it do that? This curiosity with living things was borne out of growing up in the English countryside and inspired me to attain a PhD in biology. These experiences have deepened my understanding and connection with nature and led to me to become a science/STEM teacher and communicator. With our world facing many threats, I help students and teachers think about the natural world and how we might act positively for wildlife.

Georgia Haywood

Teacher        

I work as an Educator at Melbourne Zoo because I love teaching kids about wildlife. My passion for animals started as a child, looking after a number of pets (including a large flock of chickens) and developed as I grew older, travelling the world in search of wild animals such as elephants, monkeys and Orangutans.

I have a Masters of Teaching, specialising in primary. Before I worked at the zoo, I was a full-time primary school teacher. My goal is to inspire students to care for and understand about wildlife and discover ways they can help wildlife conservation.

Geraint Stirling

Teacher              

I have always loved nature, but it wasn’t until spending a week in a Cambodian Elephant Sanctuary that I realised that animals have been a constant throughout my life and conservation was the field that I want to work in.

My Bachelor of Science (Biological Science) and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) enabled me to join the Education Team at Melbourne Zoo. I am a fun and enthusiastic teacher who enjoys engaging all students from Kindergarten to VCE.

Hannah Rau

Teacher    

In my youth, I discovered the brilliance and majesty of the natural world. There was nothing I loved more than learning, talking about and being surrounded by wildlife. This passion lead me towards a career in environmental education.

I specialise in Early Years, however, I love working with children of all ages. My goal is to promote active learning, citizenship and student leadership. To empower youth to share their voice and make a positive environmental difference within their school and in their communities.

Jess Brown

Teacher              

Nature truly is my happy place. Growing up in Central Victoria, we had a huge garden on top of a hill. I’d climb high into the top branches of trees, feeling the trunk sway, daydreaming and gazing out over the valley.  

I was a kid free in nature and that gift has given me a sense of peace and comfort, a love of adventure and a commitment to conservation. I studied Nature Tourism (Outdoor Education), Literary Studies and Primary/Early Childhood teaching. I adore teaching at Zoos Victoria and hope to help other kids to grow up feeling deeply connected to nature. 

Kate McCabe

Teacher  

I was lucky enough to grow up exploring the bush land of Eltham and beyond, which led to my enduring love and fascination for Victoria’s native flora and fauna. I studied Zoology and Teaching with the aim of obtaining my dream job – to be an Education Officer with Zoos Victoria.

After 13 years in this role, my passion is even stronger than it was on my first day, thanks to the countless inspiring students I have been lucky enough to meet who have gone on to do amazing things to help native wildlife in Victoria and across the world.

Katrina Watson

Teacher

I grew up next to one of the few remaining habitats of the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly. I was fascinated by the life cycle of our beautiful local butterfly and I wanted to tell everyone about it. I remember presenting a very elaborate poster about the Eltham Copper Butterfly to my Year 3 class!

This passion for nature and conservation stayed with me into adulthood and led me to complete a Bachelor of Biological Science and Graduate Diploma of Primary Teaching. I love inspiring others to be curious about the world around them and empower them to care for it.

Kiri Ryan

School Engagement Officer

My grandfather ignited my love of nature with the range of plants and animals he nurtured at home where I spent a great deal of my childhood. After travelling for 6 years, I returned with a dream list of places I wanted to work. At the top was Melbourne Zoo and here I am! I could not believe my luck to join such a fun and supportive team. Walking through the gates every morning makes me smile instantly; to be part of an incredibly passionate team doing amazing things in conservation and education fills me with pride.

Peta Howard

Teacher  

I am a qualified teacher and zoologist and have been teaching outside the classroom and with wildlife for over 5 years. I grew up on an Island surrounded by marine species and loving the ecosystem and environment they called home. Surrounded by the ocean and witnessing the loss of species and habitats firsthand, I decided I wanted to do something to protect it for the future by sharing my stories and educating the next generation.

Rachel Morton

Teacher              

Most of my childhood memories are from the times I spent out in nature, from climbing trees at the park to searching for skinks on my grandparent's farm. Growing up with such positive experiences in nature is what led me down my career path. I studied Early Childhood Education while spending my spare time volunteering in wildlife conservation programs. It was in 2016 that my two passions came together and I began working at Melbourne Zoo. I look forward to each workday, knowing that I'm about to meet a new group of students and learn what it is that they most love about nature.

I strongly feel that if we want children to hold the same passion for caring for this planet, we must first allow them to fall in love with it in their own unique way, just as we have. 

Simon Rawson

Teacher              

Growing up on the Murray River, my Dad would often take us out to the bush and set us free to explore, this is where my love of nature began. After completing my Bachelor in Fine Arts and a Diploma in Education, I was able to travel extensively, taking time to volunteer in conservation organisations around the world. These experiences cemented my desire to work in conservation education. I envision a world where we are all good custodians of our earth and I believe that education is the key to this vision.