On April 7, 2022, science students from Smithfield-Selma High School (SSS) visited Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is "saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild." Part of their mission includes rescuing and rehabilitating large cats that were abandoned, abused, or confiscated by authorities from private owners, roadside zoos, traveling circuses, etc. They have an education program where they inform the public about the animals.
SSS students were provided a tour of the sanctuary where they got to meet and hear about the rescue stories of the wild cats. This field trip was an enhanced educational experience during which students learned about the process of rehabilitating endangered and protected species that have been impacted by human activity. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), plant and animal species may be listed as endangered if the species "is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its [natural habitat] range."
This field trip experience was funded through the Nan Ogburn Cullman Education Endowment grant which supports public education in Johnston County in the areas of art, travel, and leadership. By learning about wildlife that are native to diverse ecosystems in different nations, students grew more aware of international biodiversity. A follow-up project where students created posters promoting awareness of the protection of endangered species synced with the Nan Ogburn Foundation's values of art and leadership.
Dr. Phillips, a science teacher at SSS, commented, "The Carolina Tiger Rescue is a great way to learn about these beautiful creatures and how some humans have stepped up to protect them. The walk around the reserve was instructive on many levels."