ZSM Programs In Our Community

Our Conservation Education Department proudly serves the community through both Kohl’s Wild Theater and our grant-funded school and community programs. From engaging, educational theater performances at local libraries and festivals to community and interpersonal outreach using science and nature-based opportunities, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and families in our area.

Education And Community Intro

Kohl’s Wild Theater

Throughout the year, Kohl’s Wild Theater brings live, educational, family-friendly shows to libraries and various community events within a 60-mile radius of the Zoo, completely free of charge. These performances bring important conservation messaging and stories to children and adults all over southeastern Wisconsin, including many who have few opportunities to see live theater.

Questions? Contact us at kwt@zoosociety.org.

Learn More View Performance Schedule

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Grant-funded Programs

The Zoological Society works with schools, community centers and other organizations throughout our area to bring conservation education to underserved groups. We offer a number of enriching programs specially designed to entertain and educate people of all ages. While these program partnerships are currently established and are full, we welcome your inquiry at education@zoosociety.org.

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Animal Ambassador
Animal Ambassador

Our Animal Ambassador program opens the world of animals, conservation, and the environment to more than 1,800 children in grades 2-4 in metro-Milwaukee. Through class lessons and Zoo activities, students learn about the relationship between humans, animals, and our environment. Zoo field trips and Zoo educator visits foster student curiosity about wildlife and conservation, encouraging them to see themselves as “ambassadors”, speaking for the animals who can’t speak for themselves.

Animal Connections Continuum
Animal Connections Continuum

The Animal Connections Continuum brings a valuable emphasis on empathy to children’s science-focused learning. Society educators facilitate positive animal and nature experiences and help students identify their roles as individuals, community members, and world citizens, fostering students’ empathic connection to wildlife.

The explicit teaching of empathy, and the inclusion of social-emotional learning concepts and practices, takes learning beyond that of a typical science curriculum, inspiring students to take conservation action. Currently, this program serves students from three West Allis-West Milwaukee schools in grades 2-4 and is poised to build upon its strong foundation of success.

Early Childhood &Amp; Nature Play Partnership
Early Childhood & Nature Play Partnership

Our Early Childhood & Nature Play Partnership Program with Milwaukee Public Schools brings the youngest students (K4 and K5) from 9-10 Milwaukee Public Schools (primarily located in underserved neighborhoods) and their trusted adults to our Zoo grounds for a creative and kinesthetic outdoor, nature-based experience. We provide hands-on learning, problem-solving, and free play while promoting an appreciation for the outdoors through opportunities for authentic adult-to-child engagement within a natural environment. Throughout their time at the Nature Play site on Zoo grounds, the educator and volunteers motivate children and their adults to try new things and step out of their comfort zones to engage in a natural setting.

Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters

The Society, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee, provides conservation education programming for mentoring matches (“Bigs and Littles”) with the goal of building long-lasting relationships that change youths’ lives for the better and grow their understanding of the natural world. Key staff from both organizations work together to develop hands-on, partner-focused experiences that increase exposure to educational, cultural, and community-based activities. Bigs and Littles are given an opportunity to see the Milwaukee County Zoo as a place to learn and discover ways they can work together toward stewardship of the natural world.

Summer Camps And Community Centers
Summer Camps and Community Centers

For 15 years, the Society has offered Summer Camps for Underserved Youth to children attending metro-Milwaukee community centers. In most summers, we partner with six local youth community centers to bring science and conservation education to children in a fun and interactive manner at no cost to the center or families. Children benefitting from this program attend Zoo Summer Camps, participating with peers in full-day immersive experiences that include Zoo tours, hands-on learning opportunities and art activities.

Supporting ZSM Community-Based Programs

Are you a funder who would like to support this type of programming?

Support Our Programs

Animal Connections program provides experiences that the students may not otherwise have – trips to the zoo, live animals, exposure to other habitats in Wisconsin and worldwide.

This provides an opportunity for our students that many may never have. Thank you for this gift to provide equal access to our families.

As the students participated in the program, it helped them think not only about themselves but also the living world around them. Even small decisions a student can make can have a big impact on our environment and the animals living there. Students started to make connections to having empathy not only for people but also for animals.

The Animal Connections program has provided my students with the opportunity to learn about animals and empathy in a very engaging way, both in and outside of the zoo. The hands-on activities helped the students interact with animals closely, and deepened the impact of their learning.

This program helps with building empathy in our students. Students are very engaged in learning both in the school classroom and the zoo classroom. The opportunity to learn from zoo staff brings the education to a higher level as students feel connected to the zoo in a way they were not connected before.

The Animal Connections program is truly amazing. The staff that is provided for zoo classes are engaging and speak appropriately to the children’s level. The students end up loving the instructors of the classes and constantly talk about them. The program has made an amazing impact on my classroom and on my students. Without it, we would be doing these students a disservice. This program is teaching so many life and social skills that will be applied to animals and people, for years to come.

It was a great pleasure working with this program. I think that one of the parts that my students liked the most was the visit to the zoo and the opportunity to learn in the laboratory. Also the opportunity to explore the zoo and the different animals and their habitats. Also the visit to the classroom, they were very happy and ready to learn. The activities were excellent; they and I enjoyed them. As a teacher I also learned a lot.

This program is awesome! The impact it has on our students and families is amazing. The opportunities that some may never have.

I want to thank you for your help and support in this program. I think this type of teaching is important for our students. They have the opportunity to learn outside the classroom and apply what they have learned to their lives. The program also teaches the respect we must have for nature and the importance of each living thing.

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