Continuous Learning at the JMZ

September 6, 2022

Hello Friends,

As an organization, the Friends is dedicated to constantly learning more about the communities served by the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo (JMZ), as well as how the JMZ and its programming can best address the needs of families, children and educators. As part of this effort, this summer the Friends funded DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) training for staff at the JMZ, as well as Friends’ staff and board members. Lead Consultant of Project 986 Consulting, Carmen Phelps, PhD, hosted two sessions tailored to the needs of the JMZ. For this newsletter, we spoke with Karin Garblik, co-chair of our Access & Inclusion Committee, about the training and how it supports our efforts to promote inclusion at the JMZ.

I am excited to share that tickets are now on sale for Halloween at the JMZ!, a special fundraiser and Halloween event the Friends will host for families at the JMZ. Tickets are $30 per person with promo code “EarlyBird” between now through September 30, and $35 per person beginning on October 1. Proceeds from the event will go to  the Friends’ Annual Giving Fund, which includes support for programs that expand access to science education in the community. Halloween at the JMZ! will be held on Friday, October 28th, from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. Join us for fun animal experiences and treats throughout the zoo. I hope to see you there!


Lauren Angelo

President, Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

Photo courtesy of Lee Harper

Continuous Learning: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training

Interview with Friends Board Member Karin Garblik -- Access and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair


What were the primary objectives of the DEI training?

A priority for us at the Friends is to invest in continuous learning about the communities we serve, and to continue evolving a DEI-aligned approach with our environment. For this initial training, four desired learning outcomes were established, namely: to acquaint attendees with the information and resources to inspire support of DEI values; to familiarize attendees with data points that communicate the necessity of promoting DEI values; to teach contexts in which the JMZ can actively champion DEI values in practice and outcome; and to inspire attendees to continuously engage with educational activities that relate to DEI.

To inform these objectives and to make the training as meaningful as possible, JMZ staff were surveyed on the topics they found most important to creating an environment aligned with DEI values. Both sessions emphasized the continuous nature of learning about DEI and the constant work required to create an environment welcoming to all staff and visitors.

What did the training entail?

More than 45 JMZ staff, Friends staff, board members and committee members were trained across two sessions. The first of these trainings laid the foundations for understanding what DEI is and defined the impact of implicit and cultural bias. The second session dug deeper into what we hope to achieve and what tools we need to develop as far as becoming more diverse, inclusive, accessible, and equitable organizations. The benefits of promoting DEI values in the workplace, from attracting more diverse talent to favorably impacting life outcomes of diverse communities were clearly outlined in both sessions. 

The training sessions were both interactive and collaborative. Attendees were challenged to discuss what we had learned and encouraged to bring up any additional questions raised while relating the session back to our own experiences.

How were these training sessions tailored to the needs of a museum and zoo?

Our consultant synthesized best practices in working with educational institutions, government services, and fundraising professionals to create an experience that acknowledged the multi-faceted nature of the JMZ. Attendees were asked to use personal examples and experiences to talk about how institutionally, the JMZ can best evolve into an educational resource accessible to people of all backgrounds. Staff at the JMZ and at the Friends were excited to speak positively about what we do well to drive forward a DEI-aligned approach, as well as what we can do better.

What other efforts are underway to invest in continuous learning at the JMZ?

We expect to be on this evolving journey for a long time to come, to that end will continue to evaluate opportunities for growth in this arena. As one example, later this year and into 2023, the Friends committed to funding an Evaluation Consultant position who can gather feedback about the communities the JMZ serves and advise on how to become even more accessible to underrepresented visitors. We are excited to see how this evaluation allows us to learn more about meeting the needs of our audience.

Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

info@friendsjmz.org | www.friendsjmz.org


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