What’s been happening with our ZooTeen Leaders?

The ZooTeen Leaders program is a year-long opportunity for teens to learn at the Zoo through activities focusing on conservation issues, local and global environmental issues, communication skills and career development.

Kiana Clevinger, a ZooTeen Leader participant, reports on a recent meeting below (click the image to make it larger):

Zoo Blog Post  Kiana

 

 

 

 

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Have a question for an expert? Find a ZooTeen Leader!

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photos by Kelli O’Brien

If you paid a visit last summer to the Seneca Park Zoo, you probably had a conversation with one of our informative ZooTeens; perhaps about the palm oil crisis affecting orangutans, or the rise in poaching affecting elephants. How did they do? Did they know their stuff? Were they biased or balanced?

When you consider how many competing ideas are out there about conservation topics, it can be pretty difficult to find reliable research, or good advice about the best steps you can take to help protect wild animals and preserve our environment. Our ZooTeens spend a great deal of time researching exactly that, giving them a great foundation to expertly answer any questions you might have! And we help them get it right.

I was fortunate enough to assist with developing these research skills at a recent ZooTeen Leaders session. Together, Julie Babulski, one of the ZooTeen Leaders program staff, and I investigated claims (or assertions) made by a group. We paid special attention to whether a claim came from a biased source or not and whether it was supported by evidence or opinion. We made sure to evaluate the quality and objectivity of several different claims, including magazine articles, advertisements and informational brochures.

DSC_6534In order to practice some of the notions we discussed, we then created factual, but biased, advertisements to show how an agenda can sway the presentation of information. One great example used a Center for Disease Control statistic to advertise the danger of snake bites and then supported their importance to ecosystems with a quote from a National Geographic article. Both of these are factual – snakes are extremely important members of our ecosystem, but the best way to stay safe is to avoid them when you see them. Can you spot the bias that these expert, reliable sources might have?

Identifying bad claims can prove useful in all sorts of ways! It might help you to select the best foodstuffs for your family’s needs, help scientists and engineers review each other’s work, or even help uncover the best steps you can take to help preserve our environment!

If you have any questions about any claims you might read about wildlife or conservation, feel free to stop by the Zoo and ask any of our knowledgeable docents, educators, or animal care staff — or starting on July 7, any of our stupendous ZooTeens. I hope I don’t seem too biased for saying so!

– Tim Shank, Interpreter / Educator

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Summer is just around the corner

Photo by Walter Brooks

Photo by Walter Brooks

It’s almost that time! Summer programs start Memorial Day weekend and there is a lot to do at the Zoo. Did you know that in addition to new animal demonstration programs and a new stage show we also offer you the chance to join in a party for the animals? We have birthday celebrations for many of our animals – it’s another chance for some family fun!

Check out the following animals’ birthdays, May through September:

  • May 21 – Tiger
  • June 14 – Snow leopard
  • June 21 – Sea lion
  • August 2 – Penguin
  • August 9 – Meerkat
  • September 13 - Orangutan
Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

These birthdays are a great celebration of the animals, and of the quality care we provide for them at the Zoo. Come to an animal birthday and see the animals enjoy special treats! Talk with our knowledgeable volunteers and keepers and enjoy the magnificent animals of the Zoo! All animals birthdays happen from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, with a birthday sing-along at 2 p.m.

Celebrate with your family and our animals!

- Kenny Nelson, Interpretation Coordinator

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ZooTeen Leaders kick-off

Photos by Anneke Nordmark

Photos by Anneke Nordmark

human knot 2.24.14The ZooTeen Leaders program is off to a great start! There were 22 participants during our first meeting in February and after some icebreakers and getting to know each other a bit, we took a night tour of the Zoo.

ZooTeen Leaders is a year-round program designed to give teens the opportunity to delve deeper in conservation issues and take a leadership role during our summer ZooTeen program. We’ll be diving into conservation issues around water, recycling, energy use and specific animals and habitats. We’ll explore what we already know about these issues, what problems are affecting our local area and the global community and what we can do to make a difference.

During our weekly meetings, we will conduct group research, have visits from guest speakers, take field trips and participate in hands-on activities and data collection. ZooTeen Leaders will further develop their skills in writing and speaking to communicate conservations messages to wide audiences. And of course we’ll have fun doing it! In June, we will develop training for participants in the summer ZooTeen program. Stay tuned for updates on our activities!

The summer ZooTeen program is accepting applications through April 1, 2014. Get yours in to be a part of the fun!

- Anneke Nordmark, Youth and School Groups Program Coordinator

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Fun for all ages at the Zoo this spring!

Photos by Kelli O'Brien

Photos by Kelli O’Brien

We have had some rough winter weather this year, but come April we’re looking forward to plenty of sunshine for Spring Break Camp and  ZooClasses!

Spring Break Camp is offered April 14th to 18th this year, and available to campers ages 5 to 9. This year’s theme is a “Sense of Survival.” We will focus on how senses help animals survive! Each day we will focus on one of the five senses, meet animals in the classroom and search the Zoo for animals with heightened senses. Throughout the week we will make enrichment items for the animal residents and see demonstrations planned just for ZooCamp. We will also use our creative side to make a fun project about what we learned and use our scientific side to perform experiments to see how our own senses add up. Sign up now and join the fun!

DSC_5898If your child is too young for ZooCamp we have a couple months left of preschool ZooClasses! Each class involves a visit from one or two animals from our Education Animal Collection, a story, songs, a snack and a creative project. Our 2-year-old friends will learn about fabulous frogs in April, and have an opportunity to meet awesome armadillos in May. Our 3-year-old friends will discuss counting with animals in April and later learn about animals that play hide and seek in May. Our oldest preschoolers (4- and 5-year-olds) will discover creatures of the night in April and explore animal families in May. We offer classes on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays to fit into busy schedules and provide online registration to make signing up easy!

If your child loves learning about animals treat them to ZooCamp or a ZooClass this spring! Hope to see you when the weather is warmer.

- Dea Minnick, Camp Coordinator

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Intern to learn

I am a student at the Charles Finney School and had the privilege of interning this year at the Seneca Park Zoo. Ever since I was little I have had a strong love for animals. Interning at the Seneca Park Zoo was a perfect fit for me and anyone who shares that same passion for animals. The Zoo has many different opportunities to learn more about animals with the programs they have.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

Over the past few months, I have been able to meet and learn about the different animals here at the Zoo. I was able to visit the set and observe a taping of Homework Hotline, where Outreach Coordinator Tim Fowler brought a boa constrictor and talked about it for the viewers. I have also learned about the importance of butterflies and butterfly conservation. I look forward to seeing what else is in store as the months get warmer.

If you have a strong interest in animals and education, become an intern at the Seneca Park Zoo too! Reach out to Volunteer Coordinator Elizabeth Roach at eroach@senecazoo.org or call (585) 295-7354.

-  Jenna Snyder, Education intern

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Learning about climate change

Photos by Kenny Nelson

Photos by Kenny Nelson

This past week, I participated in the first session of a study circle for the National Network for Oceanic and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI). The first session was held at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA. There are two more sessions. One will take place at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, MA and the last one will be at the Toledo Zoo in Toledo, OH.

IMG_8945The purpose of the study circle is to learn how to effectively communicate climate change to Zoo visitors using our labels, programs and informal conversations. Why is this important? Well, climate change may be the biggest threat to wildlife. It is a problem that reaches everywhere and affects everyone. However, it is a topic that is difficult to communicate because many people do not understand the science behind it.

I’m learning to communicate the topic using strategic metaphors, assessing the values visits hold and avoiding words or phrases which might cause confusion. The study circle was great! I met people from twelve other informal education facilities. It was amazing to learn from, and with, other professionals in my field. Look for some new messaging in the upcoming Summer Programs!

- Kenny Nelson, Interpretation Coordinator

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