High school students: Are you interested in animals and the environment? Do you enjoy teaching others? The ZooTeens program offers you an opportunity to work with the public while gaining conservation education experience.
Each summer, over 250 high school students gain real-world work experience at the zoo: caring for animals, presenting to groups and working with children at zoo camps. Some ZooTeens work one summer; other high-schoolers return every year.
Who can be a ZooTeen?
It's a big commitment! You can apply if you:
- are entering ninth to 12th grade
- like working with the public and want to develop your public speaking skills
- are interested in conservation education: learning about animals and sharing that information with others
- want to assist with the care of animals
- can commit to four days of training (two weekday evenings and two weekend full days) in May/ June and 10 hours of volunteering per week (two 5 hour shifts) from mid June to Labor Day, with a two week vacation
What you'll do
As a ZooTeen, your day is varied and busy. You will:
- help young visitors interact with and learn about animals at the African Pygmy Goat Kraal and the Trillium Creek Family Farm
- handle and present ducks, hedgehogs, small snakes, turtles and tortoises
- learn about the zoo and its animals
- talk to the public about animals throughout the zoo
- lead activities at the family farm and out on zoo grounds
Application and tuition
What are the steps to becoming a ZooTeen?
- Interested teens should fill out an application (at the link below), by March 1. Due to the high volume of applications we receive, we cannot accept late applications. Be thoughtful and complete in your essay answers, using complete sentences and punctuation.
- Attend a family Preview Night on either March 1 OR March 5. This mandatory information session is an important part of understanding the format of the program and the expectations we have of ZooTeens – this is not a passive volunteer experience!
- Interview. All teens who attend Preview Night will be invited to an individual interview with program staff and current ZooTeens so we can get to know you better.
- We always receive far more applications that spaces available. If selected, teens must be able to attend four mandatory pre-season training sessions to prepare for the summer, as well as one Mandatory Mid-Season training. Pre-season training dates are as follows. Teens are expected to attend ONE of each training. Each training is offered twice.
Training 1: May 20/21, 6 - 9 p.m. (Wed or Thurs) Orientation
Training 2: May 30/31 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Sat or Sun)
Training 3: June 3/4 6 - 9 p.m. (Wed or Thurs)
Training 4: June 6/7 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Sat or Sun)
ZooTeens is a real-world learning experience. The $125 tuition provides students with training, conservation education and mentoring by zoo professionals. Scholarships are available. Some schools offer credit for being a ZooTeen. Check with your school's guidance counselor.
ZooTeens is both a work experience and an educational activity. Teens are asked to make a commitment of time and enthusiasm to the zoo. Your support is vital to ensure your child honors his or her commitment.