Zoo Patch 101 – How to Create a Zoo Patch Program
Docent, Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association
Manager of Arts & Culture for the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Patch Programs are great programs designed to engage young audiences, generate revenue, increase membership, and build support for our Institution. The program is easy to create supports itself financially, and need minimal staff to run.
Additionally, it helps develop awareness of your site, positive attitudes toward the role of cultural institutions, and potential life-long supporters.
What is a Patch?
Boy and Girl scouts all across America earn badges, pins, or try-its throughout their scouting years. Each badge asks Scouts to complete a series of activities that relate to a particular theme, such as animals, sports or safety. When the activities are completed scouts are given badges for their accomplishments, Scouts are also given the
opportunity to add to their badge or pin collections with patches or a participation patch. Patches or participation patches are associated with extracurricular activities, such as the “Cookie Kick-off” fitness walk, council event, or a special camp out. Any one can create a patch. All patches need to follow a set of guidelines issued by the Scout
Council and be composed of original activities.
Does Creating a Patch Program benefit My Zoo?
Inviting in new audiences can help with any institution’s visitorship. A Patch program’s main audience is scouts. Scouts are composed of children of all ages. From experience, the children, are eager to learn, attentive, and follow instruction well because they want the reward in the end, the patch. If you create a program that is educational, fun, and exciting, it will generate buzz which in turn brings in more scouts to participate in future Patch programs and your past participants will want to come back because they want to experience more.
All the troops are accompanied by adult chaperones. Many of these chaperones haven’t been to a zoo in years. If you get them excited and invested, you may get new members or renewing members, future public program participants, and adults who can spread positive buzz about your zoo.
Patch programs can offer revenue for your zoo or docent program throughout the year. If you work with your local council or advertise the program through the zoo’s newsletter, your program can be full each month. Patch programs can be also opened up to the general public in case scout sign ups are low. The Patch activities and theme
could work well for a public program and give a group a unique insight into your zoo.
How to Create a Patch:
- Pick a theme, example: History of Zoos, Roles of Zoos in our Community, Conservation or Animals are Cool!
- Check that the subject of your Patch is not the same as that of any other Scout badge.
- Make sure that the topic you’ve chosen is in keeping with the Scout Promise and Laws.
- Find out if the topic you want to explore can support at least eight different activities. Even though less then eight are necessary. You need to create activities that fit a variety of talents, interests, and abilities.
- All ages of scout need to be able to complete al the activities.
- The activities need to be applicable to both boy and girl scouts.
- The Patch takes advantage of something unique located at your site.
Depending on the activities that are offered, the Patch program can be inexpensive to produce. Initial expenses to produce the patch, reproduce the supplies, xerox handouts, and gather teaching props. Once everything is secured, future expenses would only be around xeroxing, new patches and replacing props. Since the program
is revenue generating, your costs would be covered.
Your Scout Council must approve your Patch. Either make an appointment with a Council staff person or send in a proposal. Some councils may ask to see the activities you want to do. Once your Patch is approved, have fun designing the patch and offering the program.
Creating your own Zoo Patch can be easy, fun, and rewarding. Patch programs are great ways to generate a new stream of revenue, gain new visitors, increase memberships, and create positive buzz about your zoo. Work with your local Scout Councils and explore the many ways you can create engaging programs for your local
scouts such as a patch, sleepover, or badge program. A forest can begin with the planting of one seed, and view this opportunity as a chance to continue to grow support for your institution.