Annette Maier

The photo is of three students. One is holding up a hand-drawn poster about biodiversity and another is holding a panda plush.

Annette Maier, a teacher at Jefferson Middle School in San Gabriel, California, uses WWF and Wild Classroom’s resources and opportunities to engage her students in the importance of biodiversity.

During my very first year of teaching at Jefferson Middle, I wanted to gift my students something that would symbolize the impact they had on me as an educator. Thinking of my love for animals and how they connect us both to the environment and each other, I decided to symbolically adopt an animal that would “live” in my classroom so that future classes would be reminded that each student has the ability to have an impact.

Fast forward about ten years, I have teamed up with my teacher partner Diane Tse, and our endangered species project is now a cross-curricular wild adventure! I also now have an awesome collection of endangered species that live in my classroom and the symbolic adoption gift turned into one of everyone’s favorite projects of the school year.

To me, there is nothing more important than sharing with students the importance of working together and remembering that we share this earth with so many wonderful creatures that need protecting. When we save them, we are essentially saving one another; conserving our diverse planet is key to tackling the current climate crisis. My students created a project-based learning experience that reminds them of this important connection and that they absolutely can make a difference in the world.

Recently, this “wild” connection has grown even stronger as my students got to experience a live interaction on Conservation in the Classroom with not only a WWF scientist, but also with the director of Kung Fu Panda 4, Mike Mitchell! Students learned about the importance of biodiversity and how teamwork highlights our unique abilities (teamwork makes the “DreamWorks!”). We tied this experience with the Wild Classroom learning activities—they survived the Biodiversity Escape Room by navigating challenges together as a team as they experienced that it is important to build off one another's strengths. They also explored WWF articles and videos that brought the biodiversity and teamwork connection to life!

My students were completely engaged and enthralled that someone like Mr. Mitchell would join in and provide us an experience that not only enhanced their learning, but more importantly reminded them that people care about our world and the wonderful diverse species that are a part of it. From this experience, students took away the mindful message that they can make a difference and have a positive impact on our world. We became so impassioned that students used their writing skills to create persuasive posters, both independently and as a team. We are now even more excited to see what species our classes elect to adopt this year!

Thank you so much, Wild Classroom, for providing my students with experiences each year that not only create true global citizens, but citizen scientists ready to learn about and protect the Earth!

"Thank you Dreamworks and WWF for giving us the opportunity to appear on one of your meetings! After listening along while you talked and learning more in school, I learned that though we can’t tackle the entirety of the problem all at once, we can still help save Earth but adjusting and changing certain habits or aspects of our life for all of us to live better. And not just for humans, this also benefits the animals and their habitats!"

-Christopher M. from Ms. Maier's class

Ms. Maier's Class Learns About Biodiversity and Teamwork

Annette Maier

Annette Maier

Annette Maier