Blair Bazdarich: San Francisco Zoo
Blair Bazdarich, a lifelong science and animal enthusiast, got her start as a science educator when she was just 13 years old. Volunteering for the San Francisco Zoo on the Nature Trail, Blair had the opportunity to teach zoo visitors about the animals that she had already come to know and love. Bazdarich cites visiting the zoo and interacting with its wild, amazing, creatures as well as going to her school’s science fairs as setting her on the path she is on today.
After numerous internships, part-time jobs, and some time as a ZooKeeper at the San Francisco Zoo, Blair packed her bags and traveled to the Middle East, completing a 6-month internship at the Jerusalem Zoo, where she learned multitudes about animal care, coexistence, and environmental movements in places where it is necessary (not just the right thing to do), not to mention new languages!
Upon her return to the US, Blair became the K-12 Outreach Coordinator for the Aquarium of the Bay, where she created, managed, and ran the BayMobile, an educational outreach program focusing on climate change.
Continuing with her passion for animals and science education, Bazdarich returned to the San Francisco Zoo this past spring. She is now in charge of the ZooMobile program, bringing a diverse group of live animals to classrooms throughout the Bay Area, inspiring caring in students and advancing conservation action. Bazdarich says she is inspired by the efforts of the youthful members of society to make big changes. She believes that children have the ability to make this world a better place if they have access to necessary information and resources—and it is up to us to arm them with those tools!
Blair’s favorite teaching experience so far has been when she had a lengthy conversation with a young woman during Big Cat Weekend at the San Francisco Zoo. The 12-year-old had asked point-blank how she can grow up to help animals. “She didn’t know a lot about the various careers and methods to assist endangered species, or about the many different threats species currently face,” Bazdarich reports, “but after about 20 minutes of questions and conversations, she asked for my email so we could continue the exchange. Before she walked away, she told her father, ‘Dad, I know what I want to be now. I want to be a conservationist.’ And as she walked away, she turned back, ran up to me, and gave me a giant hug, and quietly said ‘Thank you.’ I nearly cried. That kind of exchange helps us all to remember why we do what we do. She will be a change-maker, and if I helped inspire her along her way, I’ve done my job.”
For Blair, her exploration into science doesn’t end after a day in the zoo or classroom. She participates in a weekly podcast called This Week in Science (TWIS). Every Wednesday Bazdarich is joined by a neuroscientist and a car salesman (and science enthusiast) to chat about the week’s discoveries, breakthroughs, and other science news. She is the show’s resident “Zoologist,” with her own segment called Blair’s Animal Corner. Bazdarich strives to make science accessible and fun for all audiences, “I dedicate my days mostly to kids and families while my nights are devoted to the internet at large, which is mostly adults. If we can make science less mystifying, more exciting and universally accepted, all conservation issues will become obvious calls to action. I want everyone to know how awesome science is, and what it has to offer, and I also want everyone to know what is at stake.”
Between her time at the Zoo and on the web, there’s no doubt she is doing her best as an excellent advocate for science and conservation. Check out Blair’s science podcast on www.twis.org, or book the ZooMobile to come to your child’s school at www.sfzoo.org/zoomobile!