The Zoo’s Teen Program provides a way for youth to serve their community in pursuit of environmental awareness and career exploration. Teens are offered a variety of opportunities throughout the year with our year-long Zoo Teen Program and the Summer VolunTeen Program.
Each year, Zoo Teens work alongside staff to create a positive and memorable experience for Zoo visitors. Teens perform a variety of tasks at the Zoo that include Animal Handling, Kayaking and Public Education. Zoo Teens also volunteer their time for Zoo Camp, fundraisers and special events.
There are numerous benefits to joining the Zoo Teen Program. Students can use their volunteer experience to meet community service requirements for Florida Bright Futures Scholarships. Teens also have the opportunity to work directly with animals and the public, gaining valuable skills for a variety of careers. Most importantly, Zoo Teens gain an appreciation for the value of volunteer work and community involvement.
Once selected and trained, Zoo Teens volunteer once a month on their assigned Saturday or Sunday. Teens select their assignment from a list of available positions. The day is divided in half, with one opportunity in the morning before a lunch period and one in the afternoon. Normal times are 9 am – 3 pm. Some of the activities teens help with are listed below:
We welcome teens to volunteer more than once a month if they are available. In June and July, Saturday and Sunday volunteer days are not required. Volunteers instead sign up for hours that fit their schedule any day of the week (a 15-hour minimum is required). Teens can take advantage of leadership and career exploration opportunities by participating in special projects and attending talks by speakers from a variety of career backgrounds.
The program is for teens between the ages of 13 to 16 who are interested in animals and working with the public. Applicants must be 13 years old by January 1 to apply for that year’s program. Applicants do not need a vast knowledge of animals or zoos. The program seeks applicants that have:
There are numerous benefits to the Zoo Teen Program. Many students are able to use their volunteer experience to meet the community service requirement for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarships (please speak with the guidance department of your school on how to do so.) Depending on their school, students may receive credit for their volunteer hours. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with education department animals and the public, gaining valuable skills for a variety of careers. Making new friends, earning potential employment references, gaining lots of experience and a sense of accomplishment are just a few more reasons to apply!
For consideration into the Zoo Teen Program, Teens must complete and submit an application. Applications for the 2018 Zoo Teen Program are due by October 15, 2017. Incomplete application packets will not be reviewed. Completed applications and questions are scored equally using a rubric. A rubric is a tool that allows the applicants to know how each answer will be scored. Teens are encouraged to use the rubric to guide their responses. The top 35 – 40 applicants are interviewed in November. Of these, approximately 25 teens are invited to join the Zoo Teen Program. All applicants are contacted in December regarding their application status.
Our Zoo Teens are extremely excited and passionate about conservation! Each year they organize a Youth Environmental Summit. Their goal is to empower youth from across Florida, ages 12-18, to play an active role in conservation by providing them with information and tools. Attendees discuss environmental concerns, attend workshops and participate in hands-on projects.