August 16, 2018
Hi! Our names are Emily and Gillian and we’ve been members of the ZooTeen program for the last four years, and ZooTeen Leaders for the last two. Anyone entering grades 8 through 12 with an interest in animals, ecology, or conservation can apply for the ZooTeen program. The ZooTeen program runs through the summer season, while the ZooTeen Leaders program is year-long. ZooTeen Leaders serve as mentors for those in the ZooTeen program, helping to develop training and content for the summer stations. In addition to acting as role models for our peers, we also get more involved in our community, and further develop our public speaking and leadership skills.
If you’ve visited the Zoo this summer, you’ve likely seen or spoken with a ZooTeen. Throughout the day, we are educating guests on how important it is to protect, conserve, and understand the environment we live in. Our time spent interacting with the public is most important, as we strive to get them to care for the natural world around them.
Each day we break into groups of two or three that we’ll stay with for the day, and sometimes it’s with ZooTeens we may not know very well. Each group rotates to stations around the Zoo, each with a different topic. These topics include animals, threats to the environment, and conservation methods.
Our time as ZooTeens has taught us about working cohesively with others to convey a common message. Working with others has proven to be a challenge, but this program has successfully given us the tools to communicate and educate effectively. The ZooTeen program has expanded our knowledge of wildlife and nature and encouraged us to step outside our comfort zones!
We think there’s no better way to spend your summer than with like-minded peers educating Zoo guests about the importance of conserving wildlife and wild places.
When the summer program ends, a ZooTeen can decide to continue their experience at the Zoo and join the ZooTeen Leaders program. Participating in both programs has been an amazing experience and we encourage anyone who is thinking about joining to apply for the program next spring, so we can grow our group of conservationists!
Emily wants to become an elementary school teacher while Gillian is interested in studying environmental science and sustainability.
For more information about the ZooTeen program, visit the link below!