For the first time, about 40 people in West Michigan are working with the John Ball Zoo to listen for frogs this spring.  

The Zoo developed a local chapter of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' "Frogwatch" program and, earlier this year, graduated its first-ever Frogwatch" class. 

Zoo Education Programs Manager Rhiannon Mulligan tells WOOD Radio that these are "citizen-scientists", people who have learned how to identify all the sounds of frogs in our neighborhoods.

Mulligan says this is a nationwide conservation effort.  "You're suddenly getting a whole group people who didn't know what was making that  sound in their backyards...and the hopes would be that they would be more likely to want to protect those animals."
The Zoo's Frogwatch chapter hopes to keep track of how many frogs there and where they live, so scientists can use that database to track their populations as habitat and climate changes.  She said amphibian populations have been declining.

As 2015 starts, Mulligan expects the John Ball Zoo's Frogwatch program will begin to train another class of citizen-scientists to continue the studies.