The Staff

Cassie Anderson
Lead Teacher & Program Director
Cassie has a Bachelors of Science in Family Studies, Human Services, and Mass Communication from Kansas State University, as well as her Child Development Associate credential. She came to Zoo Sprouts with over nine years experience in early childhood education from the Kansas State University Center for Child Development (KSU CCD) where she most recently served as their Assistant Director. She started at KSU as an Assistant Preschool Teacher, quickly advancing into the Lead Teacher role. Her experience in these positions brings with it the background knowledge of successfully managing a classroom that combines 2.5 to 5 year olds. Cassie was in the classroom for over three years before she was promoted to the Assistant Director position.

As the Assistant Director, she supported the Director in KSU CCD’s move from one facility to another and a transition from being a separate non-profit to a division within Kansas State University. Cassie also led the center’s successful effort to become accredited by National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Her responsibilities as Assistant Director also included scheduling and supervising staff, and much more for the largest childcare center in Manhattan.

Cassie has been completed training with Growing Up Wild and Project Learning Tree, as well as experience with the developmental rating scales and classroom management techniques used in the Zoo Sprouts program. Beyond these, Cassie was part of KSU CCD’s efforts to bring two internationally-recognized professionals, Clare Warden and Rusty Keeler, in the field of nature-based education to Manhattan for a regional early childhood workshop. She was also instrumental in KSU CCD’s efforts to install a natural playspace at their facility.

Janet Silva


Assistant Teacher
Janet has a Child Development Associate Credential and is currently working on her Associates degree in Early Childhood Education through Kansas City Community College. Janet has been in early childhood for over eight years. Janet ran her own licensed home childcare for four years and most recently has been an assistant teacher at K-State Center for Child Development since 2009. Janet has experience working with children of all ages and has a strong knowledge base with nature-based education.

In addition to her professional experience working with children, Janet also has four children as well as twelve grandchildren. Janet enjoys spending time outdoors and helping children to experience nature.

Jared Bixby
Program Administrator & Substitute Teacher
Jared has been the Curator of Education at Sunset Zoo since December 2008, and brings with him 15 years of experience in the conservation and environmental education field. Over this time, Jared has delivered numerous informal education programs to children of all ages, as well as developed the program’s content. Jared has been in the management role as a Curator of Education in zoos across Kansas since 2001.

Jared has a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Biology from Kansas State University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Emporia State University. Jared also served on a state-wide leadership team for developing and implementing professional development training for the Growing Up Wild and Project Learning Tree’s Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood curriculums that are used by the Zoo Sprouts program. His educational background, extensive zoo experience, and leadership roles in informal education provide essential support to the Lead Teacher in the development and implementation of a unique and adapting curriculum for the Zoo Sprouts program.

Additional Staff
Several part-time staff, many of which are Kansas State University students, also join the Zoo Sprouts team. All staff must submit background clearances to KDHE. Licensing prohibits us from employing any one who has been convicted of child abuse, neglect or most forms of assault.