The Minnesota Herpetological Society offers two types of educational programs depending on the needs of an event.
Informal Q&A Program
This program is designed for event attendees to see reptiles and amphibians up close while learning about them one-on-one from MHS volunteers behind a table. Animals are held by volunteers or displayed in containers as attendees listen, discuss, and ask questions. A typical small group program is usually staffed by 5-10 MHS volunteers overseen by an experienced MHS site coordinator. This program is popular for STEM events, libraries, and other events where many patrons come and go freely from presentations.
MHS is expected to resume Informal Q&A programs in November 2022.
Formal Presentation Program
This program is designed for an audience in a classroom or similar space. An experienced MHS volunteer will give a single prepared presentation about reptiles and amphibians to a large group, and animals may be available for closer viewing afterwards. Classroom programs are typically staffed by 1-2 volunteers. Projector availability for PowerPoint may be preferred for some presentations.
MHS is expected to have limited weekend availability beginning in November 2022. We are unable to offer weekday programs at this time.
Booking a Program
The MHS is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers. When you submit a program request to our Education committee, a notice must be sent out to our volunteers to ensure adequate staffing will be available for that date before the Education Committee can follow up to confirm an event booking with you. Submitting your request early allows us to do our best work.
To submit a program request, please include all of the following information in an email to Education@mnherpsoc.org:
Name of special event or school:
Room number: (if applicable)
Date and time of event (including duration of program):
Where to park:
Coordinator phone number:
Number of tables available:
Deadline to confirm availability:
As a nonprofit organization, we do not charge any fees for our educational programs, but donations allow the MHS to continue providing them.
MHS runs a long-standing education program out of Como Cottage at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. This event is a much larger version of our Informal Q&A program, with festival patrons learning from volunteers from behind a barrier in one-on-one-style discussions. Learn more about Como Cottage here.
How to Volunteer
If you are interested in volunteering with our Education programs, please email Education@mnherpsoc.org to be added to our mailing list when program opportunities pop up. Additionally, sign up sheets are distributed at in-person General Meetings.
When you volunteer for an event, any updates regarding the event, directions, or parking will be sent via group text by default. If you have a question on the day of the event, please call or text your site coordinator directly.
MHS is strict about all conduct involving live animals. We have regulations regarding health conditions, transport, and handling to ensure the safety of animals, volunteers, and the public. Before you begin volunteering, you must read and sign an agreement to follow MHS’s policies. This agreement is reissued each year and will be available at each event.
Education Committee Chair: Rae Rueber
Programs Coordinators: Rose Maunu & Laura Windels
MHS provides a public service by exposing the public to various reptiles and amphibians for the purpose of educating them about the natural history, the characteristics, and the biological value of reptiles and amphibians. This should be an enjoyable experience for the animal handler as well as the public. The following policy will ensure safety for the public, the handler, and the animal(s). For purposes of definition, a Hands-On Event is any event in which MHS members participate in the public eye with live animals that is sanctioned by the MHS Education Chair (otherwise known as Public Education Coordinator).
1.1 u00a0 The Public Education Coordinator will oversee Hands-On Events. The Public Education Coordinator reports to the MHS Board of Directors.
1.2 u00a0 A copy of the current MHS insurance policy shall be at all Hands-On Events.
1.3 u00a0 All events shall be supervised by the Public Education Coordinator or an experienced MHS member approved by the Public Education Coordinator and/or the MHS President.
1.4 u00a0 A copy of this policy will be signed and dated by every participating MHS member for each year. Participants under 18 years of age will also have this policy signed by their parent or legal guardian.
2.0u00a0u00a0 Participants of MHS Hands-On Events
2.1 u00a0 All participants must be current members of MHS in good standing.
2.2 u00a0 All participants will be in compliance with 1.4
2.3u00a0u00a0 Participants 15 years of age and under will be under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian.
2.4 u00a0 Participants 16 to 18 years of age may participate as individuals under the direct supervision of designated adult MHS member and must have a written permission slip on file signed by a parent or guardian.
3.0u00a0u00a0 Animal Handling and Personal contact at MHS Hands-On Events
3.1 u00a0 No venomous animal will be used at a Hands-On Event. These include venomoid and de-fanged animal(s). Exceptions will be made only with approval of the Public Education Coordinator and the MHS President.
3.2 u00a0 No sick or injured animals, animals in shed or animals with parasites should be brought to a Hands-On event. The event coordinator has the right to remove any animal that exhibits any of these traits. Animals under one year of age should not be in contact with the public.
3.3u00a0u00a0 Any animal known to secrete toxic skin substances must be displayed such manner that the public does not come in contact with it.
3.4u00a0u00a0 Public safety is of utmost importance. Animals used at events where public contact is involved must be under full control at all times. Animals exhibiting aggressive behavior shall not come in contact with the public.
3.5u00a0u00a0 Participants will never allow the public to touch or come into contact with the head of a display animal(s).
3.6u00a0u00a0 Participants will never allow the public to take control of a display animal.
3.7 u00a0 Participants will always demonstrate safe handling practices when in public even if these practices do not necessarily apply to this particular animal(s). For example, handler shall not allow a snake to complete a full loop around the handleru2019s neck.
3.8u00a0u00a0 All lizards capable of fast movement will be harnessed while in public so as to eliminate the possibility of escape into a crowd.
3.9 u00a0 Participants will always handle animals with respect and dignity.
3.10 u00a0 The public will be treated respectfully at all times.
3.11 u00a0 Participants must recognize that some people are extremely afraid of reptiles and/or amphibians. At no time will a participant attempt to force their animal on a member of the public.
3.12 u00a0 Animals will be on display only at the display site of the event. Participants are not to enter or leave the area without first concealing their animal(s). Preferred methods would be by bagging and/or boxing.
3.13 u00a0 Display cages, if used, must be of sturdy design and capable of being securely locked if not attended.
4.0 u00a0 Failure to Comply
4.1u00a0u00a0 Failure to comply with MHS Hands-On policy may result in suspension of participation privileges at MHS Hands-On Events.
4.2u00a0u00a0 Repeated violations of the policy may result in permanent loss of participation privileges at MHS Hands-On Events.
4.3u00a0u00a0 Suspension for failure to comply with this policy will be enforced by the event supervisor of the Public Education Coordinator.
4.4u00a0u00a0 Participation suspension may be appealed to the MHS Board of Directors.
Adopted October 5, 1996
Amended April 4, 1998
Amended August 2, 2008