LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - For this edition of Schools Rule, News 10 is highlight a high school program that’s giving students hands-on experience…in a zoo. And while it may sound like it, the Zoology program at Potter Park Zoo requires lots of hard work.
The Zoo has opened their gates to students from 11 different high schools from across the Lansing area and now, students are learning just what it takes to hold careers in Zoology, Biology and Animal Sciences.
Students in Potter Park Zoo’s classrooms are socializing a tenrec (a hedgehog-like animal) while their classmates are testing water samples from the zoo’s lamprey exhibit.
"My students are learning anatomy right now and there are a lot of notes involved in that, there's a lot of memorization,” said Rebecca Morningstar, the High School teacher who teaches Zoology at the Potter Park Zoo. Students attend Morningstar’s class all school year long, every day. “While we try to make it fun and memorable, there's a lot of stuff you actually have to learn and work at to learn the information," Morningstar continued.
It’s part of a program administered by Eaton RESA in partnership with Potter Park Zoo. Students complete daily tasks like feeding animals, cleaning cages and monitoring habitats. They’ll earn high school credit once the course is completed.
"We have a strong mission of inspiring people with animals and the natural world,” said Dennis Laidler, Education Coordinator at the Potter Park Zoo. “You need that next generation of future biologists or even if you just want a life science career."
The class is hard work, but students say they wouldn’t trade it.
"It's a really good community so it gives them a good chance to bond,” said Morningstar. “I've had students who really don't fit in in their regular school say that this is where they feel the safest, where they feel the most supported is in this class because everybody has the same interests."
"I love all the terminology, I’ve been very familiar with medical terminology my whole life but now I’m fully immersed in it and I feel so intelligent, being able to use it on the daily," said Sherman.
"We just really connect with each other on separate, personal levels and we all share very similar interests with each other,” added Titus-James.
The program is open to juniors and seniors from schools across the Lansing area. Potter Park Zoo advises students who may be interested in the course to speak with their high school guidance counselors. The zoo adds students do not necessarily have to be part of Eaton RESA, but that it’s best to check with guidance counselors.