EDUCATION

DISTANCE LEARNING

EDUCATION

Enjoy live, interactive zoo programs from your classroom or home

Our Distance Learning Programs are led by a Zoo educator and include a mixture of live presentations, interactive tours of the Zoo, and the use of biological artifacts and ambassador animals to make learning fun and interesting. Programs are continuing to be developed so please check back or feel free to contact us if you don’t see something that relates to your curriculum.  

Program Fees: $75/program

Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns at [email protected] 
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DISTANCE LEARNING

make learning fun and interesting

No matter where you are, we want to make learning about animal conservation fun and interesting. Our Distance Learning programs are entertaining and interactive to help keep your students engaged and curious about the importance of preserving natural environments.

Adaptations

3rd - 5th Grades
Adaptations are unique traits and characteristics that help animals to survive in their environment. There are three types of animal adaptations: structural, physiological, and behavioral. Get an up-close look at the amazing physical and behavioral adaptations animals use to survive!
MI Science Standards: 3-LS2-1, 3-LS4-3, 3-LS3-1, 3-LS3-2, 3-LS4-2, 4-LS1-1, 4-LS1-2, 5-LS2-1.

Animal Enrichment

3rd - 8th Grades
Discover how our zookeepers keep our animals physically and mentally active in their zoo habitats. Enrichment is an awesome tool to encourage natural behaviors like running, swimming, climbing, and puzzle-solving, and we'll see how animals respond with pictures, videos, and a live animal demonstration. When we're done, you'll get to design your own enrichment for the animal of your choice!
MI Science Standards: 3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-2.

Body Coverings

Pre-K - 1st Grades
All animals have different body coverings depending on the class that they belong to. Mammals are covered in fur or hair, birds are layered in feathers, and reptiles typically have dry scales. Experience the furry, feathery and scaly side of the animal world and learn why animals have these amazing coverings.
MI Science Standards: K-LS1-1, 1-LS1-1.

DISTANCE LEARNING

Explore John Ball Zoo No Matter Where You Are

With our distance learning programs, we make learning accessible and engaging for your students. Explore John Ball Zoo on the go, in the classroom, or in the comfort of your home while learning about the importance of wildlife conservation.

Exhibit Design

3rd – 8th Grades

Dive into the role of an engineer and discover what it takes to create a zoo exhibit. We’ll tour three of John Ball Zoo’s exhibits up close to learn about animal, guest, and keeper needs. Then you’ll become an engineer and create an exhibit of your own! 

MI Science Standards: 3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-2.

Michigan Habitats

2nd – 3rd Grades

Young scientists learn about native Michigan wildlife and their habitats as we explore the animals that live in John Ball Zoo’s North American habitats. Learn what all animals need to survive while comparing and contrasting the animal’s natural habitat vs. their habitat at the zoo.

MI Science Standards: 2-LS4-1, 3-LS4-3.

Penguineering

2nd – 4th Grades

Explore habitats and classification as it relates to Magellanic Penguins! Students will enjoy this interactive lesson that will challenge them to build their own penguin nests and test it against the environmental elements to see if their nests can make the cut. 

MI Science Standards: 3-LS2-1, 3-LS4-2, 4-LS1-1, 4-LS1-2, 3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-2.

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Great Lakes Rare Turtles

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Turtles are in trouble around the world and locally. The Great Lakes Rare Turtle Program addresses on threats that are existential and widespread for Blanding’s, Spotted, Wood, and Box Turtles. The John Ball Zoo is working wth partners to study head starting as a conservation tool, protecting nesting habitat for Wood Turtles from raccoons, and researching the distribution and status of Spotted Turtles in Southwest Michigan. The zoo partners with local community scientists to indentify road crossings that pose a threat to Blanding’s and other species of turtles.

Partners

Poweshiek Skipperling

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Facts
Habitat

Grassland, Wetlands (inland)

Threat Range

Critically Endangered

Region

Extant (resident) - Canada (Manitoba); United States (Wisconsin, Michigan), Possibly Extinct - United States (South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa), Extinct - United States (Indiana, Illinois)

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Mitchell's Satyr

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The prairie fens of southern Michigan are a stronghold for the Endangered Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly. We are working with Michigan State University, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and the Kalamazoo Nature Center to develp to propagate this rare butterfly. Offspring reared in the program may be used to supplement wild Mitchell’s Satyr populations.

Partners

Freshwater Mussels

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Freshwater Mussels are one of the most fastenating groups of animals. Unfortunately they are also one of the most imperiled groups on animals with more than 70% of North American species listed as Threatened or Endangered. Our own Grand River is home to an impressive 32 different species, 19 of which are listed. The John Ball Zoo is working with scientists at Grand Valley State University to evaluate Grand River Mussel populations. During the 2023 field season, the team documented over 1,000 individuals from 27 different species. This includes the Endangered Snuffbox Mussel.

Partners

Habitat Hero

Community Science
About

The Habitat Hero program is focused on creating better urban pollinator habitat by giving away native plants to west Michigan community members. By giving away native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, we are inviting community members to provide crucial nectar sources for pollinators as well as become more involved in pollinator conservation in their own yards and gardens.

Partners

Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

Community Science
About

American Kestrels are one of North America’s most abundant raptors, but their populations have been steadily declining since the mid 1960’s. This year we have begun participating in the American Kestrel Partnership, run by the Peregrine Fund, to monitor local kestrel nest boxes and help better understand Kestrel population trends and biology.

Partners

Grand River Sucker Monitoring

Community Science
About

Suckers are a very important, and often overlooked, group of migratory fish that inhabit the Grand River. Every spring they migrate upriver from Lake Michigan to spawn in tributaries of the Grand River. We are joining a project started by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to determine how changes in temperature and flow of the streams impact the spawning behavior of the suckers.

Partners

Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

Community Science
About

One of the major threats to turtle populations is mortality associated with roads and vehicles. We have a team of trained volunteers who survey predetermined road crossing sites and report the number of turtles they find at these locations. We plan to use the data to assist in conservation decision-making regarding roads and turtles in west Michigan.

Partners

Michigan Butterfly Network

Community Science
About

As part of our pollinator conservation work, we want to understand how native butterfly populations are changing over time. By training community members to use the Michigan Butterfly Network monitoring protocol, we are offering passionate people the opportunity to help contribute to our understanding of butterfly populations in west Michigan.

Partners

Bat Surveys

Community Science
About

West Michigan is home to several species of rare and threatened species of bats. This summer we will have a group of volunteers collecting bat occurrence data by driving predetermined routes and using special recorders and software to identify bat species. The data will be submitted to the North American Bat Monitoring Project as part of their ongoing analysis of bat abundance and occupancy across North America.

Partners

Massasauga Rattlesnake

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The Massasauga is Michigan’s only venomous snake and plays an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these snakes are declining in numbers and are listed as Threatened. The John Ball Zoo helps to educate the public on the plight of the Massasauga and helps conservation biologists study them in the field. Currently, we are assisting Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Grand Valley State University, and Sarett Nature Center develop new technologies to monitor this secretive snake species.

Partners

City Nature Challenge

Community Science
About

The City Nature Challenge is one of the world’s largest annual community science events. Started by iNaturalist in 2016 as a friendly competition between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, this bioblitz has grown into a global phenomenon with over 500 cities participating. Taking place over the last weekend in April each year, the City Nature Challenge is all about getting outside and documenting the biodiversity in and around our communities while building and strengthening relationships with other people who are passionate about conserving local species. The West Michigan City Nature Challenge is Michigan’s only City Nature Challenge event, and encompasses Allegan, Barry, Kent and Ottawa Counties. We are excited to partner with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and many other local organizations to engage our communities in four days of exploring our biodiverse outdoor spaces.

Partners

Michigan Area

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Freshwater Mussels

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Habitat Hero

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Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

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Grand River Sucker Monitoring

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Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

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Michigan Butterfly Network

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Bat Surveys

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Massasauga Rattlesnake

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City Nature Challenge

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Get Involved!