It's a throwback Thursday post today! The pictures shown are from my time spent volunteering with Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo's educational department.
On the left is a co-volunteer, Keri, and I working the "Predator" cart. This picture was featured in an article on the LPZ website about the educational carts used throughout the zoo to encourage learning and to promote guest interaction and experiences. While the Predator cart was fun and allowed for discussions about animals and their "tools" (beaks, eyes, talons, claws, etc), my favorite cart was the Endocrinology Cart. Or, as we nicknamed it, the "Poop Cart"!
The poop cart always amazed people. Okay, it actually freaked them out to think we had real poop on the cart! The "poop" was actually rubber versions of the real thing. Imagine the guy who had to collect specimens and then make a mold of it in order to create the rubber poop - yeah, your job could be worse. But, as shown, we had different variations of poop which people were challenged to pair up with a picture of it's maker. Poop helped educate people about diets and digestion. We also had real, fossilized poop under glass for the guest's viewing pleasure!
While most of our carts were geared towards children, adults were often taught a thing or two about poop and lessons of comparative anatomy. It's easy to teach a child something new, but it was a far more unique to wow the parents and visiting adults with a learning experience. It made volunteering all the more worth while.
I miss my experience volunteering at the main zoo, having a Sunday morning purpose and routine, being outside, learning about the internal workings of the zoo and it's residences, but more so shaping little brains to be more earth-conscience and animal friendly for the future. Weekend time these days is spent with loved ones and trying to navigate life, but I still look for volunteer opportunities with the zoo and other facilities. I think once you're a volunteer, you're a lifer!