The Delmarva Zoological Society announced the winners in the annual Just Zoo It! contest last week, surprising five local schools with rewards for all of their fundraising efforts. The Just Zoo It! program is in its fourth year, and encourages students across the Lower Shore to collect coins and cash for the Delmarva Zoological Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for capital improvement projects at the Salisbury Zoo. The campaign has raised over $114,000 since 2011.

Four counties across Delmarva participate – Wicomico, Worcester, Dorchester, Somerset and private schools – with schools throughout each county competing to raise the most money. The class that raises the most in each county is rewarded with a special VIP trip to the Zoo in the spring to meet the Zookeepers and learn about the animals. Students will also receive a pizza party with cupcakes, a t-shirt, and a Zoo stuffed animal.

In addition, an overall winner is selected, with a special reward for the class that raises the most in Worcester, Wicomico, Dorchester, and Somerset Counties, as well as from participating private schools. This year, Ms. Kolby Noble’s 5th grade class from Deal Island Elementary took home the top prize. Ms. Noble’s class will get the opportunity to choose a name for the Zoo’s female Red Wolf, which was born at the Salisbury Zoo in 2008. Not only did Mrs. Noble’s class raise the most money this year (with a total of $400.1 1 in nickles, dimes and quarters), but this same group of students has won every year that they have participated, starting in third grade.

“We are so appreciative of every student who helped collect coins for the Salisbury Zoo,” said Ralph Piland, Zoo Director. “But this class has clearly shown their commitment year after year to helping our Zoo prosper. Those kids are really helping to make a difference in their community, and have learned that giving back can be a rewarding experience.”

All of the money raised by the students, as well as through the fundraisers held by the Delmarva Zoological Society throughout the year, goes to helping to renew the Zoo. For example, the new Discover Australia exhibit, which opened ahead of schedule thanks to the added funding from the Delmarva Zoological Society.

“Seeing how much students all over the Delmarva Peninsula love the Zoo helps motivate us to work even harder to make sure we have an outstanding Zoo in our community,” said DZS Board Chair Ashley Bosche. “We know how special the Zoo is and it’s gratifying to see it reflected in the excitement every year of these students who want to do something to give back.”

The winning schools were surprised on Friday. The winners included:

Somerset County Winner (AND OVERALL WINNER): Deal Island Elementary – Ms. Kolbe Noble’s 5th grade class – $400.11

Wicomico County Winner:   Westside Primary – Ms. Nicole Williams 1st grade class – $223.61

Dorchester County Winner: Warwick Elementary – Ms. Julie Wagner’s 3rd grade class – $279.49

Worcester County Winner: Pocomoke Elementary – Mr. G. Young’s 3rd grade class – $235.88

Private School Winner: Salisbury School – Mrs. K’s 5th grade class – $323.25

zoo surprise 1 zoo surprise 2 zoo surprise 3 zoo surprise 4