Werribee Open Range Zoo Education Team

Meet the team leading conservation education at Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Kirsten Ryan


Having spent time at Werribee Zoo as a child, I fell in love with African wildlife.  Before the age of 8, I would read animal books to my teddy bears, keen to help anyone who would listen learn about all creatures and wild places.  At university, I completed two degrees; Science majoring in Zoology and Education and have utilised my skills to teach young conservationists in Victoria and various developing countries since 2012.

I love working at Werribee Zoo, it gives me amazing opportunities to spend time with students and connect them with wildlife through an education worth having.

Amanda Knights


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.

Fiona Hodge


Despite growing up in suburbia, I was fortunate to have a mini menagerie. I nurtured a bevy of furry and feathered friends that ignited my life-long love for all animals. I’ve been teaching for many years, with a particular interest in working alongside students with additional needs.

Based at Werribee Open Range Zoo, I have the privilege of sharing my passion and encouraging each student’s unique connection with nature. I’m delighted to be supporting the next generation of wildlife warriors!

Fiona Nelson


I’ve always had a passion for wildlife, especially African animals. I grew up hearing stories from my Dad and grandparents about their time living in various parts of Africa. I taught in high schools interstate before a career change as a journalist. While working full-time, I managed to land a dream casual job at a local zoo on weekends and I realised educating about conservation was the job I was always meant to do.

Learning at Werribee Open Range Zoo is fun and exciting; I hope to see my passion passed onto extinction fighters of the future.

Gen Johnson


I could swim before I could walk and am happiest when in, on or under water, and in the company of marine life.

With a teaching degree and a Master’s degree in Science Communication, I taught in schools before the promise of adventure and making a difference had me sailing around the world on a 6-year global scientific and education expedition, studying sperm whales and ocean pollution. Back on land, teaching at Zoos Victoria allows me to continue my passion for science, conservation and education, while enabling young people to change their world by acting for wildlife

Georgia Haywood


I work as an Educator at Werribee 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 Orang-utans.

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.

Kate McCabe


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.

Michael Newell 


I grew up in country Queensland between the beach and the rainforest and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been off finding frogs and lizards in the wild. This fascination went from an interest to a hobby and even an obsession and ultimately lead me to a career in conservation. 

As a trained Zookeeper, experienced Science and Drama teacher and a ‘mock-rock’ artisan, I not only take care of animals but talk to people about them all day too. I strive to inspire and empower the next generation to care for our environment and protect all that call it home.

Phoebe Lynch


From a young age, I wanted to work with people and animals at Zoos Victoria. I was lucky to be given an opportunity in year 10 to undertake my work experience week with Healesville Sanctuary Education team. This week cemented what I wanted to do with my life … environmental education.

I get so much joy and hope connecting students of all ages with nature and wildlife and empowering them to make a difference on a school, local and global level. Every action together makes a difference to help Fight Extinction.

Shaan Noble


My love for wildlife, the marine environment and the conservation of our natural world began when I was very little, playing on the beaches of the Bellarine Peninsula and looking through rock pools every summer holidays.

I am enthusiastic about conservation education having studied a Bachelor Degree in Animal and Veterinary Biosciences and a Masters of Education. I am very lucky to have combined my love for education and the natural world and I strive to create and empower young global citizens by building lifelong connections to the earth through wildlife.