Next Level Student Retrospective Report of Findings, September 2012

September 29th, 2012 | EVALUATION

What motivates kids to take multiple programs at the Minnesota Zoo? What makes Minnesota Zoo programs so comfortable and engaging that some kids just keep coming back? How do these experiences support kids’ interest in animals and wildlife conservation? The Minnesota Zoo (MN Zoo) offers over a dozen educational programs for youth tailored to encourage exploration of “what makes the MN Zoo tick.” After 10 years of programming for hundreds of youth, a cluster of youth return again and again to learn more about animal care, wild wildlife conservation, zoo work, and volunteer opportunities. Nicknamed “Next Level” students by MN Zoo staff for their potential to become the next generation of zoo workers, these youth exhibit a level of interest and desire to understand and protect animals and wild life that goes well beyond initial program participation. With support from the State of Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, the MN Zoo engaged Blue Scarf Consulting, LLC, to conduct a retrospective study with past and present “Next Level” students to understand the ways in which MN Zoo programs motivate their interest in wildlife conservation and what aspects of zoo programming were most memorable or impactful for them. Specifically, the study aims to answer the following questions: • How and to what extent does MN Zoo programming influence Next Level participants’ career, academic, and personal/lifestyle pursuits? • What aspects of MN Zoo programming (academic, experiential, social, professional networking) best support Next Level participants’ choices for post-high school pursuits? • In what ways can ongoing evaluation be useful in strengthening learner-centered MN Zoo programming? The appendix of this report includes a consent questionnaire, interview protocol, and surveys.



Team Members

Minnesota Zoo, Contributor
Cheryl Kessler, Evaluator, Blue Scarf Consulting, LLC


Audience: Elementary School Children (6-10) | Evaluators | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Life science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Interview Protocol | IRB | Consent Form | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Summative | Survey
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Aquarium and Zoo Programs | Public Programs | Summer and Extended Camps