By Cynthia Lee
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Reporter
The Preuss Pet store has been active for 30 years, offering a wide selection of marine and fresh water animals, small animals like gerbils, ferrets, guinea pigs, and a large variety of reptiles. The store also offers more than the chance to adopt an animal, but to learn about them as well.
The pet store has a education department collaborating with schools with science fun day, as well going to school classrooms to expose students to live animals.
“The educational services Preuss Pets offers a way of bringing fresh faces to Old Town,” said Austin Ashley, who is the community director of Old Town Commercial Association.
Ashley added, “They offer educating the community on animals and their well-being. That is what make them unique and such a benefit within Old Town.”
General store manager Kirbay Preuss, who helps operate the store, explained the mission of the center: “The mission of our store is education on animals,” said Preuss. “We go to a lot of schools such as Gier (Park) Elementary; we take the animals out and present them to the students.”
Students and teachers view animal education as a valuable opportunity. Willow Lions Academy principal Steven Lonzo explained why they encourage schools to utilize resources like this.
“Students, especially younger students, enjoy learning in refreshing ways,” said Lonzo. “Our students loved the in-class presentations, while instead of learning about the animals in the book, they get to learn about them in-person.”
The purpose of the education program is to teach responsibility, respect and compassion towards animals.
“We also work with communities outside of Old Town. In Flint to we help with Flint science day, as well LCC Lansing Community College), MSU (Michigan State University) in addition to lots of elementary schools,” said Preuss.
Associate professor of education at Michigan State University Alicia Alonzo explained how the educational center is a great way to learn.
“People, especially young children learn better hands-on and in interpersonal environments,” said Alonzo. “These educational presentations allow pupils to interact with animals, as well learn about them at the same time.”
Nikki Mitchell explained how the presentations are constructed: “We are by appointment we do presentations here or we go out to schools if asked,” said Mitchell.
“We try and bring animals that students may have never seen before, and let them see and touch it while we educate them on the animals,” she said. “We try to make it as much as a learning experience while being sure to keep it entertaining as well.”