Miller Park Zoo opens doors to young community zookeepers. (B. Corbin/WJBC)
By Sarah Beckman
BLOOMINGTON - For the 71st year, youth in McLean County can learn about zookeeping in a hands-on environment.
Miller Park Zoo is opening registration for the Junior Zookeeper program to students who are currently in 5th grade or higher.
"We're teaching them about the natural world," said Shannon Reedy, program coordinator. "At the same time, we're teaching them about how to work in a zoo."
Junior zookeepers will also develop leadership and time-management skills while learning about how a zoo works. Reedy said the program was first created by parents who wanted to see their kids more involved in the community.
"But the program we have now is much different than the one we had in the past," Reedy said. "It's a lot more education-based and hands-on."
Now the program typically sees 250 students in the summer months, and up to 175 students during the school year.
Reedy also added that the summer program is flexible.
"They can pick and leave the program if they'd like," said Reedy. "We have kids that stay for up to eight years in the program."
Interested students must attend an informational meeting on March 4, 5, or 7 at Miller Park Zoo. For more program information, visit millerparkzoo.org