Could You Be a Docent?

Do you ever get strange looks from people at social events when you break out some of your favorite animal facts? Have you reached capacity for animals residing in your home? Do you ever feel like a lonely bastion of useless knowledge about the natural world? Do you wish you had a social outlet that was centered around a common interest in animals and nature? Have you met a zoo docent and thought, "I wish I could do that?"

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might consider becoming a Potter Park Zoo docent. Our Recruitment Day is January 15th and we're looking for people with passion and commitment who want to dedicate at least 50 hours a year to teaching, leading tours, and making lasting connections with the greater Lansing community. Here are some compelling reasons to consider this opportunity:

1. You get to spend time with animals. You can't have a tiger as a pet, but you sure can see a tiger as often as you want by giving tours around the zoo. Maybe you love snakes but your husband can't stomach having one as a pet because you'd have to feed it sweet, defenseless baby mice. But you can handle snakes at outreaches. Maybe snakes make your skin crawl. Note: you don't have to handle any animals you're uncomfortable with.

2. You get to spend time with lots of other people who love animals. People who will appreciate your endless string of interesting information about the breeding habits of the kookaburra or the ingenuity of ring-tailed lemurs. People who will teach you things you never knew about marine polyps and the social behavior of penguins. People who get you.

3. You get to impart your love of the natural world to the next generation. If you're concerned about the future of endangered species or threatened environments, rest assured there is something proactive that you can do to ensure their preservation: teach young people to care as much as you do. Environmentalism and conservation are by necessity causes that require the participation of every generation. Maybe you came of age during the big environmental push in the 1970s so conservation is ingrained in your brain. But someone who came of age in the 1990s probably heard a lot more about advancing technology than they did about retreating forests and species. Share your passion with people who don't know yet that they need to care.

4. You get to spend more time outdoors, enjoying all of Michigan's wonderful seasons. If you're feeling like a couch potato but you're not looking to run a marathon, leading tours is a great way to get off your duff and get out in some fresh air. If you never leave the house if it's snowing, it's time to live a little!

5. You get the opportunity to serve your community. Volunteering brings with it so many rewards, not the least of which is knowing that you are giving back. Walking back to your car after looking into the wonder-filled eyes of schoolchildren who have just had their first up-close encounter with a big cat or meerkats or even a goat is one of the most satisfying feelings there is.

Docent Recruitment Day is January 15 from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM in the Safari Room (in the Education building). If you have any questions about what being a docent entails, please leave them in the comments section and I'll give you my take on it.