Behind the Scenes of Education: On the road and inside camp

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Behind the Scenes of Education: On the road and inside camp


Last week, I had the fun opportunity to head on a short road trip to the town of Redfield, Iowa. I joined Katie Mayer, one of the Zoo’s summer interns, as she visited the local library with a few of the Zoo’s education animals. 

The Zoo education department logs thousands of miles each summer as our education programs hit the road all across the state, bringing the Zoo to visit libraries, preschools, day cares and more. In June and July, we visited 179 libraries!


Library programs range from groups of 15 to even 300 children depending on the size of the town. Each library, as part of the summer “Dig into Reading” program, has the opportunity to participate in a variety of themes like Beneath Our Feet, which covers underground and above-ground animals and a fun guessing game for children, or Home Sweet Burrow, which gives kids the opportunity to guess where animals burrow.


The Redfield Public Library chose not to have a theme for our visit; it included a show-and-tell with four Zoo critters: the hissing cockroach, White’s tree frog, eastern screech owl and a baby alligator. Each library visit includes a couple animals the kids can touch – and always the opportunity to see them up close!

Katie teaches the children about Diagonal, the baby alligator

The kids enjoy getting to touch the baby alligator!

Most of the kids weren't afraid to touch the hissing cockroach...but the adults were!

Katie shows the Eastern screech owl to the group

We wrapped up our summer library visits last week, in addition to our Summer Safari camps. One of the camps, Zoo Tycoon, held a special grand opening of the zoo they created on the last day of camp. This 5th-6th grade camp was about running a zoo, giving campers the chance to create their own exhibits as part of their own zoo.


The camp counselors, Bri Whiting and Colin Seebach, taught the campers about things they may need to run a zoo. During the first half of the week, campers learned about who is necessary to make the zoo successful and how to organize the zoo by habitats and by continent.


The campers then separated into groups and made exhibits, doing research on two animals from their selected habitat and making their own exhibit. They made rough drafts of their exhibits and the rest of the week was left to create their masterpieces. The last day of camp, the campers opened the Animal City Zoo to the public. Their zoo consisted of a parking lot, train, playground, a Safari Grill, and seven very creatively planned out exhibits. 


The campers proudly display their bald eagle exhibit

Campers show their unique Polar Express exhibit

My personal favorite Zoo animal, the red panda, is a part of Animal City

Even though our summer programming has ended for the year, our education staff eagerly awaits fall programming. In fact, registration is now open for Zoo Tunes, Zoo Tots and Zoo Tots Cooking. Members receive special discounts on these classes, and we look forward to teaching your little ones in the coming months! Register today!

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08/13/2013 11:20 AM |Add a comment
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