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This Teacher Turned His Classroom Into A Zoo

Published on Dec 19, 2021

Award-winning environmental educator John Zavalney will be guest speaker at the Pasadena Rotary Club’s open-to-the-public meeting on Wednesday, December 22. He will talk about “Environmental Stewardship: Responsible Action to Protect and Preserve the Environment.”

The meeting is open to the public and is also accessible via Zoom.

John Zavalney retired in 2018 after a 30-year career teaching middle school in South Los Angeles. When he teaches, Zavalney’s classroom was literally a zoo, with exotic birds flying overhead, and iguanas and tortoises patrolling the floor. His students affectionately called him Mr. Z.

He continues to participate as a teacher, trainer, facilitator, or representative for leading global, national, and local environmental education programs, including Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots, GLOBE (the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Program), Project Learning Tree, Project Wild, Project Wet, and recently was named as Assistant District Manager for The Climate Project.

Zavalney was also on the board for the South Bay Business Environmental Coalition and served as the chairman for the annual Environmental Science Fair.

His important contributions to the education and advancement of young people have been recognized with a host of prestigious educational awards and honors, including Disney’s American Teacher Award, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Education and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality’s Teacher Professional Development Award, The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Clean Air Award in Education, and the Jane Goodall Institute Global Leadership award in Education.

RSVP is required to attend the live meeting at the University Club Pasadena. To RSVP, email or call (626) 400-6750. Lunch is $35.

The University Club is at 175 N. Oakland Ave.

At this time, only members or guests with proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the noon meeting may attend. Masks are required except when actively eating or drinking.

To join the meeting via Zoom, go to The meeting ID is 845 8332 4183 and the pass code is 073016.

For more information, visit

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