EDUCATION

ZOO TO YOU

OFFSITE PROGRAMS

Bring a Zoo Program to Your Classroom!

We’ll bring the Zoo to you! Our offsite programs allow your students to learn about wildlife conservation through hands-on learning experiences. 

Enjoy an up-close encounter with live zoo animals in the comfort of your own classroom or facility. Presentations work great for classrooms, scout meetings, retirement communities, and libraries. Presentations are typically between 30 and 45 minutes in length. Animals are presented one at a time. Topics vary depending on age of audience (from preschool to adult). We can customize a program for you or you can choose from one of our core education topics.

2024 Pricing: Program fees are $135 plus an additional $1.00 per mile traveling fee (includes mileage and staffing cost) and $100 for each additional consecutive program on the same day.

Programs booked for 2025 may have a price change. 

REGISTER HERE

A Meet and Greet Station offers a more informal interaction with ambassador animals. Encounters offer a few minutes in which to engage with our instructors and/or Docents as guests learn about the animal and may even have an opportunity to touch an animal! This type of program works well if your event or facility has a large audience that may not be suited for sitting and listening to a long presentation. Typically, one or two animals are strolling at a time for approximately 45 minutes each. Meet and Greet programs are scheduled by the hour for up to 2 hours at a time. Meet and Greet Travel Zoos work well for retirement communities, community fairs/events, and larger corporate events.

2024 Pricing: Program fees are $135 plus an additional $1.00 per mile traveling fee (includes mileage and staffing cost) and $100 for each additional consecutive program on the same day. 

Programs booked for 2025 may have a price increase. 

REGISTER HERE

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OFFSITE PROGRAMS

STEM Programs

STEM is involved in all aspects of saving wildlife and wild places. Our programs are developed using fun, hands-on and flexible teaching methods. Book your traveling STEM program today! 

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Penguineering

Habitats come alive as students are immersed into the life of a penguin. Hands on activities bring to light what Magellanic penguins need in their habitat and how animals are natural engineers.

Gold Site Certified - Meerkats 3 (1)

Exhibit Design

Building exhibits at the Zoo is no small task. Engineering skills are put to the test as groups use an animal’s needs and adaptions to design and create 3D models of a new exhibit.

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Penguineering

Habitats come alive as students are immersed into the life of a penguin. Hands on activities bring to light what Magellanic penguins need in their habitat and how animals are natural engineers.

Exhibit Design

Building exhibits at the Zoo is no small task. Engineering skills are put to the test as groups use an animal’s needs and adaptions to design and create 3D models of a new exhibit.

Zoo Careers

Working with wild animals can be exciting, rewarding, and sometimes even a little stinky! During this program, your class will get a sneak peek into what working for a zoo is really like.

DISTANCE LEARNING

Enjoy live, interactive zoo programs from your classroom or home

All of the traditional STEM and Travel Zoo programs are available via distance learning. Zoo educators had a special twist to the programs to ensure they’re engaging via a screen – works well with either a classroom type presentation or students on individual laptops. 

Program Fees: $75/program

Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns at [email protected] 
OFFSITE PROGRAMS

March is Reading Month

Making reading wildly fun! This unique Travel Zoo will bring a Zoo educator into your classroom to read a selected book and then share one of the Zoo’s ambassador animals with your students. This program is meant for individual classes so that students can experience an up-close encounter with an animal. Please indicate your top two choices of books when submitting your registration form. The Zoo will supply the book and one ambassador animal matched as closely to the animal(s) featured in the book as possible. Program lengths vary depending on book and age of students but are typically 25-45 minutes. 

Lower Elementary

Fiction

The Hoppameleon by Paul Geraghty
The Tiny Tadpole by Judith Nichols
Turtle Time by Sandol Stoddard
An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
Slithery Jake by Rose-Marie Provencher

 

Nonfiction

Great Snakes by Fay Robinson
Frogs by Wildlife Education
Turtles Take Their Time by Allan Fowler
 

Upper Elementary

Fiction

Where Should Turtle Be? by Susan Ring
Cesar Takes a Break by Susan Collins Thoms
Verdi by Janell Cannon
The Hoppameleon by Paul Geraghty
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
An Interview With Harry Tarantula by Leigh Ann Tyson
Tenrec’s Twigs by Bert Kitchen
 

Nonfiction

Starting Life: Frog by Claire Llewellyn
Spiders by Nic Bishop
Awesome Amphibians by Jeff Bauer
Why Do Snakes Hiss? by Joan Holub
Look Out for Turtles by Melvin Berger
 
VIRTUAL ZOO LAB

Bring Science Standards To Life With Our Virtual Zoo Lab!

Immerse your students in a weeklong program created to bring science standards to life while also weaving in creative writing, scientific observation, and more.

Base Fee: $700 for 2 classrooms.

Includes 5 synchronous programs, access to all asynchronous videos and supplemental materials, access to all 3 360º exhibit tours, and classroom kits. Additional classrooms may add on synchronous videos for a fee of $75/video for up to 2 classrooms each.

Please contact Rhiannon Mulligan, Education Program Manager, directly if interested in booking this program. [email protected]     616-336-4301 x3001. 

Virtual Zoo Lab

Program Components

Our Virtual Zoo Lab allows your students to spend one week learning about animal adaptations, habitats, animal behavior, and conservation. This online learning experience also incorporates creative writing, scientific observation, and more.

Synchronous Programs

Teachers choose 5 Zoo Educator led programs that align best with their curriculum. Examples include; exhibit design, enrichment design, adaptations, and classification, along with many others. 

Asynchronous Programs

The Zoo has created 3 in-depth behind the scenes tours, guiding students through the Zoo Commissary, Vet Hospital, and behind the scenes Aquarium. Animal Observations are done daily to tie in scientific observation as well as creative writing. Observations are facilitated through 3 virtual 360º exhibit tours of the brown bear, meerkat, and red panda exhibits as well as additional Zoo Insider videos. 

Classroom Kits

If you are in the classroom with your students you have the option of utilizing additional materials for lessons including exhibit design kits, penguineering kits, biological artifacts (i.e. skulls, feathers, shells, etc), and materials to conduct a Great Migration learning game. *Delivery is included in price within a 30 mile radius of JBZ.  

REVIEWS

What Teachers Have to Say

practical and engaging

"Because we attend Zoo lab and teach about adaptations, we can cut out an entire fourth-grade science unit. This week of learning is practical and engaging for students and definitely beats another BCAMSC unit!"

real-life examples

"In addition to helping us teach these important science standards, my students have a better understanding of why we learn about adaptations, food webs, ecosystems, and practice scientific observation because they now have real-life examples of people using these skills and knowledge for their profession"
- Matthew Evans, Grand Rapids Montessori, GRPS

kids really liked learning this way

"There are SO many things about school that we have had to change this year and while Zoo Lab was also different, kids really liked learning in this way and were excited about it each day."
- Cortney Kittredge, Knapp Forest, FHPS

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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

Oarisma powesheik

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!