Akron, OH

Get to know Akron Zoo's educational contributions

James Stephens

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AKRON, OH — At the Akron Zoo, education takes various forms that you might not even realize you've learned something.

The Zoo takes education extremely seriously, regardless of all the fun that comes with it. Staff at the zoo are attempting to not just present new information on animals, but also to inspire visitors to care for the animals they are learning about.

Making connections is what education means to them. They strive to connect every visitor to the zoo's animals in a way that benefits species conservation in the wild. When a zookeeper highlights a personality attribute of an individual animal or when an education specialist brings a snake to first graders and encourages them to take a closer look, this connection is made.

The Zoo serves as a community resource as well as a learning center for family outings. Their ZooMobile programs bring education animal ambassadors to school children in Summit, Stark, Portage Wayne, and adjacent counties, giving them an up-close interaction with animals that they might not otherwise be able to see at the zoo.

Other than that, the Zoo educators help kids with school projects by providing information and different perspectives. They go to career fairs at their schools. Staff members frequently serve as judges at local science fairs. They make presentations to local community organizations about the zoo's conservation activities. They also collaborate with local schools on problem-based and STEM learning projects.

Making connections can happen in a variety of ways. Citizen science programs allow staff, volunteers, and tourists to act as scientists and contribute to the protection of species. The following are some of the science projects that they have worked on at the zoo.

Christmas Bird Count

For over a century, individuals across North America have gone out into the field to count birds every December. These counts are entered into a national database that conservationists use to track the status of bird populations.

This data provides specifics that scientists might use to determine where they should concentrate their efforts. Recently, the census has begun to reveal how specific bird populations are changing as a result of climate change.

You can also be a scientist. It doesn't matter if you're a seasoned ornithologist (bird expert) or a complete beginner. Every year, the Audubon Society organizes a count across the United States, and the zoo collaborates with them to form a group in our region. To find out when the bird count will be held this year, contact the zoo or the Greater Akron Audubon.

FrogWatch USA

Frogs and toads serve a vital function as environmental health indicators. They must rely on both water and land to exist as amphibians. As a result, they are extremely vulnerable to environmental changes.

Frogs and toads, which were once plentiful, have been rapidly declining in numbers in recent decades. This decrease is a warning indicator that there are troubles inside an ecosystem, or possibly global ones.

Members of the public can learn more about wetlands and their communities through this citizen project, which was started by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Volunteers from all across the country learn about the importance of frogs and toads, their habitats, and how to recognize these amphibians by sight and sound.

The volunteers then spend about 15 minutes a week at their local wetlands identifying the frogs they hear and then entering the information into a national database. Conservation biologists use this data to assist design conservation plans for these valuable creatures. FrogWatch USA has a webpage where you may learn more about them. You can also look for information that has been gathered since 1998.

The Akron Zoo invites all members of the public to participate in these events. Not only will they contribute to nature and its preservation, they will also have a lot of fun doing it.

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