It’s the time of year that teachers have been preparing for, kids have been avoiding, and parents are overjoyed for. School is back in session!

Here at Lee Richardson Zoo, we are passionate about helping students, young and old, discover the wonders of nature. The Zoo Education Team has been preparing for the start of the 2019-2020 school year all summer long. We have many educational opportunities for teachers and students to take advantage of.

Are you interested in getting your students out of the classroom and providing more opportunities for hands-on learning? Then consider bringing your class to the zoo for a half-hour Education Center program. During this program, your students can not only learn about animals but meet Ambassador Animals in person also. Do you want to find out more about our larger residents during your outing? We offer hour-long walking tours; allowing your students to discover more details about the zoo's residents as the Education Team guides them to different habitats.

If you are looking for an extra special opportunity for your visit, consider booking an Animal Encounter session with giraffes or rhinos. For a small fee, you and your students will feed these animals Keeper approved food in a guided experience (animals and weather permitting). A field trip with any of these exciting opportunities is certain to be a memorable visit.

If having the zoo visit you is a better option, we can bring the zoo to your classroom. Zoo educators and Ambassador Animals can visit your students for a half-hour ZooMobile. Or, you can book a Distance Learning program. This forty-five-minute program brings Lee Richardson Zoo, and it's animal residents right into your classroom through the use of technology.

Finally, if you’re looking for different resources to use in your classroom, consider borrowing a Teacher Discovery Box. A Teacher Discovery Box is a great tool for teachers to increase the depth of a topic without having to spend money on extra resources. These boxes cover a variety of themes and provide touchable items to bring topics to life. This isn’t the end of educational opportunities at the zoo, as we have been planning exciting events for the 2019- 2020 school year.

The Southwest Kansas ECO-Meet is set to take place on Thursday, October 17th. This event for 8th- 12th graders tests their knowledge of Kansas wildlife in both individual and team settings. Students will demonstrate teamwork skills, presentation ability, and knowledge of our native ecosystems. The winning team of the Southwest Kansas ECO-Meet will be eligible to compete at the state competition in Hesston, KS on November 7th.

Friday, April 24th, Lee Richardson Zoo is hosting its annual Party for the Planet! This Earth Day Celebration provides hands-on opportunities through crafts and games hosted by Community Exhibitors; highlighting a variety of conservation themes. Zoo staff gets in on the fun too, hosting Keeper Chats. These chats provide opportunities for guests to ask questions of the team that cares for our animal residents.

Zoo volunteers will host Discovery Tables; allowing students to discover and touch bio-facts, pelts or bones, related to different conservation topics. Don’t forget to register your group for our special guest performer! Each year we host a performer to combine art and science into an engaging performance for all ages. This free show has limited seats available, and registration spots fill quickly.

The Party for the Planet focuses on what students can do, including how they can create an impact on conservation that day. This year we will once again give those attending our Earth Day celebration a chance to become “Conservation Heroes” by contributing their spare change toward a project to protect wildlife and wild places.

Interested in learning more or signing up for these zoo school opportunities? Contact the Education Team at 620-276-1250 or by emailing


Catie Policastro is the conservation education specialist at Lee Richardson Zoo.