The Zoo and You: Reaching Out
Detroit Zoo Docents
The Zoo and You is an outreach program designed to promote a greater understanding of the important roles zoos and aquariums have in education, conservation, research and recreation in today’s world. Students will develop greater appreciation of zoos and aquariums and will discover ways they can join our efforts to celebrate and save wildlife. Program participants will be provided with resources to encourage them to live a greener life style. The Detroit Zoo Docent association applied for a 2009 AZAD education grant and received it. Without this assistance, the program could not have been created. The grant was used to purchase specific animal biofacts which were needed to make the outreach interesting and unique to an age specific audience.
The target audiences for The Zoo and You outreach program are middle and high school students, groups who traditionally don’t visit the zoo often. Schedule logistics, financial constraints and extra curricular activities are possible reasons why these students limit their zoo visits. It was important that The Zoo and You provide a meaningful and memorable WOW! experience to motivate students of this age to develop green ethics. We felt that providing the middle school and high school student with concrete examples of participation in zoo and aquarium conservation efforts would create enthusiasm to communicate those ideas to others. During The Zoo and You outreach presentation, audiences will discover:
- The origins of Zoos
- The origin of The Detroit Zoo (a circus went bankrupt, leaving the animals behind.)
- Need for education (informing audiences of the issues and actions they can take to help.)
- Learning styles of different types of education opportunities available; all FUN
- Recreational opportunities available through out the year
- Conservation programs at AZA affiliated zoos
- Roles of the Detroit Zoo’s Green Team
- Research Activities that the zoo participates in
- Where our zoo animals come from
- Roles of zookeepers
- How zoo exhibits are designed
- Volunteer opportunities at the zoo
- How can you learn more? Resources
The Zoo and You outreach program was created by Detroit Zoo Docents with the assistance of the Detroit Zoo education staff. A power point presentation was formulated using existing digital images. The Detroit Zoo Docent outreach team recruited a special AZAD team to evaluate and
present The Zoo and You outreach programs.
Steps taken to implement this outreach:
- Assessment of needs with middle school teachers to confirm that there was a need and desire for this type of program. This was completed in January 2009 with enthusiasm by science teachers for the program.
- AZAD grant applied for. Existing animal biofacts and materials assessed for use in program. When AZAD grant was approved, special animal biofacts were ordered.
- The Zoo and You docent outreach team formed. Docents collaborate with education staff to create dynamic power point presentation. Existing zoo materials gathered which focused on Detroit Zoo’s role in education, conservation, (SSPs and local/global conservation efforts), research, (veterinary projects, amphibian staff), and recreation activities (Zoo Boo, Breakfast with Santa, Wild Winters, Summer Concert Series, Ethnic Festivals and Earth Day).
- Docents met and trained to deliver the outreach. Basic script was created for power point and animal biofact presentations. Evaluation forms were revised to meet the guide lines of this program. Based on response from teachers and students, the outreach can be changed as necessary.
- Zoo and You presented to school audiences as test presentations. Program discussed at AZAD outreach team meetings; revisions and enhancements made.
- Docents present the Zoo and You to the Detroit Zoo Docent Association at a monthly general meeting. Strategies for implementing the program during the summer season take place.
Three Different Ways this program may be given:
- During the school year, it is used to reach middle and high school audiences in their classrooms. A power point presentation, biofacts with student interactions, and distribution of a conservation themed print pocket guide, Shades of Green, are the key elements. Follow up projects such as suggested research topics or cyber searches for the classroom will be given to the teachers for their consideration. Evaluations are encouraged from students and teachers and are used to modify and improve the program. A trial period of one year is given to assess the effectiveness and popularity of the outreach.
- The Zoo and You may be given in the zoo classroom, on site, combined with a docent led tour. It can put the cap on an enjoyable visit and review educational aspects of the zoo tour, including emphasis on zoo careers.
- During the seasonal summer months, a mobile education cart exhibit displaying biofacts and pictures will be used by the docent interpreters to communicate with zoo visitors.
The Detroit Zoo docent association would like to thank AZAD for this education grant. Obtaining the grant meant that the Detroit Zoo’s education department was able to expand their reach to middle and high school audiences with a special flair. Taking the outreach to the community creates community pride in our zoo and fosters knowledge and curiosity in zoo
careers and science.
Detroit Zoo AZAD grant writers:
Ellen Kulie and Karen Emanuelsen, Senior Docents Detroit Zoo
Education advisor- Kim Sneden, Education Curator, Detroit Zoological Society
Education assistant- Carla Rigsby, Education Specialist, Detroit Zoological Society
Photography and power point assistance- Carol Hunt, Janet Rosenthal, Senior Docents Detroit Zoo.
Assistants- Detroit Zoo docent attendees of the 2010 AZAD conference