Graphic Design students work with Potawatomi Zoo

When you visit the Potawatomi Zoo this spring, take a look around – our EACC students have been hard at work!

Graphic design students from the Elkhart Area Career Center have been collaborating with the Potawatomi Zoo on a range of concepts, including billboards, brochures, posters, zoo signage, newsletters, social media and their calendar.

The project began after graphic design instructor, Amber Kosar, worked with her students on the basics of billboard design, using Potawatomi Zoo as a hypothetical client. Kosar was impressed with her students’ work and decided to submit it to the Potawatomi Zoo. Her email led to a meeting with the zoo over the summer, which in turn led to the integration of a full-on project-based learning opportunity with a real-world client.

“This experience has been great for our students” says Kosar. “It provides them with a good opportunity to grow as graphic designers and expand their portfolios, while working with a well-known client and helping a non-profit organization. It also teaches them workplace skills – active listening, the pressure of deadlines, understanding their target audience, constructive criticism, and building effective designs.”

Northridge senior, Tyler Scott, agrees, “It’s exciting to share our work with people – with our families and friends – to have people see our work.”

Students began their projects with a field trip to the zoo, along with photography and veterinary tech students at EACC, to have a better understanding of how much the zoo utilizes graphic design to communicate with their audience. While there, the photography students took photos of animals for the graphic design students to use in their designs.

When students returned to the classroom, they were all given an objective, then started working on designs. Students reviewed their designs first one-on-one with Kosar, then made edits based on her feedback, considering aspects like readability, copywriting, alignment, and consistency. Once they’d adjusted their designs, they met with Lindsey Frick, Finance and Marketing Administrator at Potawatomi Zoo to present their ideas.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with the work of these students,” says Frick. “Being a small non-profit, we have a very small budget, which can be prohibitive of hiring a professional design firm. This partnership allows us to further stretch our marketing budget. It’s also time-prohibitive for me to design them internally – having the students create them will save the zoo time and money.”

Elkhart Central senior Austin Ritchie is excited to see his class’ designs at the zoo, “the Potawatomi Zoo is so well-known in the area. It’s really cool to have so many people see our work.”

While many of the designs are still works in progress, the EACC students have recently designed a poster that was widely used by the zoo to promote their popular Zoo Boo event.

“They bring such creativity, fun colors, fun prints,” says Frick, “it’s exciting to give them this opportunity. It’s been great to work with Amber and the students – they’ve all been very professional.”

Edwardsburg senior Lucas Pierce’s favorite part of the project is the impact he’ll make, saying, “I like the real life aspect, getting to do a larger project, a series of designs.”

All three students plan to continue in the field of graphic design – Tyler and Austin are looking at art colleges, and Lucas plans to enter the Marines first and then college.

students working at table