Archive: Detroit Zoological Society Appoints Curator of Humane Education

Stephen Vrla to lead programs that help people help animals

April 10, 2019

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) has named Stephen Vrla Curator of Humane Education. He is responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing programs designed to educate and inform audiences about the need for compassion, responsibility and respect for animals and the environment. Vrla holds the distinction of being the only humane education curator at any zoo.

“Humane education is central to our core values and mission to provide the community with educational opportunities that instill reverence and respect for wildlife and wild places,” said DZS Executive Director and CEO Ron Kagan. “Stephen’s educational and professional background has centered on teaching young people how to make decisions about environmental issues. His passion and commitment to wildlife and nature make him the perfect choice to lead this important initiative for the DZS.”

Vrla joins the DZS from Michigan State University (MSU), where he served as an instructor in sociology and teacher education. Prior to that, he was a graduate teaching assistant in MSU’s sociology department. He has also served as a naturalist and youth leadership program coordinator for Lansing’s Fenner Nature Center.

Vrla is in the process of completing his Ph.D. in Sociology at MSU. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.

The DZS’s Berman Academy for Humane Education was created in 2002 and offers a broad range of unique and engaging programs that help people help animals. The Academy provides learners of all ages with information and tools to make knowledgeable decisions on how to walk softly and treat the Earth’s creatures gently.