Conservation Youth Team

cyt5The Virginia Zoo’s Conservation Youth Team (CYT) is a youth development program for high schoolers that provides important volunteer services to the Zoo, our guests, and our communities. During a fun and intense two-week training at the beginning of summer, teens learn their way around the Zoo, the basics of conservation and ecology, and how to interpret to Zoo guests. For the rest of the summer CYT participants provide exhibit interpretation for Zoo guests or support summer Safari Camp programs. As a member of the Conservation Youth Team, students develop important job and life skills, build self-confidence, and earn community service hours. Regular conservation experiences connect students with opportunities to better understand science and conservation in the local community.

What opportunities are available?

CYT offers two “tracks” to applicants—Guide Track and Camp Track:

Guide TrackIMG_3138

Students in this track hone their interpretation skills and provide enriching guest experiences. Guide Track CYTs will become intimately familiar with Zoo stories and animals while sharing their passion for conservation with Zoo guests. Applicants should have an interest in actively communicating with visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

Time commitment:

  • Two-week training: Monday–Friday, June 27-July 1, and Tuesday–Friday, July 5-8 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • Shifts: Three consecutive eight-hour days each week (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) July 10–September 3, 2016. Students select one of the following day groups: Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, or Thursday/Friday/Saturday. (No Guide Track on Wednesdays.)
  • Conservation events: July 20, August 10, August 24
  • End of Summer Celebration, Awards Ceremony, & Sleepover: September 3, 2016
Camp Track 

Students in this track will assist our instructors and mentor campers with our IMG_7560Summer Safari Camp Programs. CYT volunteers will learn how to lead games and manage groups while assisting in activities such as learning labs, zoo tours, behind-the-scenes experiences, and animal encounters. Applicants should have an interest in mentoring younger students and gaining teaching experience.

Time commitment:

  • Two-week training: Monday–Friday, June 27-July 1, and Tuesday–Friday, July 5-8 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • Camps: five consecutive days of eight-hour shifts every other week. Camp Track 1 with starting days: July 8, July 22, August 5, August 19
  • Conservation events: July 20th, August 10th, August 24th
  • End of Summer Celebration, Awards Ceremony, & Sleepover: September 3, 2016

What are the requirements?

Student volunteers applying should:

  • Indicate a track preference on their applications
  • Be currently enrolled in high school or entering high school next fall and be at least 14 years oldDSC_7617
  • Demonstrate an eagerness to learn and to work with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Be proficient in English and comfortable with science vocabulary
  • Be willing and available to attend all important program dates listed below
  • Volunteer for eight-hour days (8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) as assigned (approximately 100 hours)

What is the timeline?

  • Information sessions:
    – Jan 10 from 1:30pm to 2:30pm
    – Jan 30  from 10:00am to 11:00am
    – Feb 7 from 2:30pm to 3:30pm
    – Feb 18 from 6:00pm to 7:00pm
  • Application and Recommendation Form due: February 29, 2016
  • Potential interviews: March 16, March 19, or March 20, 2016 (if selected, applicants will need to attend one interview session in person)
  • Summer orientation: Thursday, May 19  at 6pm or Saturday May 21 at 2:30pm (CYT’s and Parents only need to attend one orientation)
  • Required Two-week training: Monday–Friday, June 27-July 1, and Tuesday–Friday, July 5-8 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • CYT-specific summer events: July 20, August 10, August 24 and September 3, 2016

Is there a cost?

If you are selected to participate in the Conservation Youth Team there is a required $100.00 registration fee. This amount covers your Zoo uniform shirt, nametag, and additional program materials.

Are there any scholarships available?

The Virginia Zoo offers a scholarship for first year students applying for the Guide 2Conservation Youth Team. The scholarship will cover the participation fee of $100 due by April 1. Students must send in answers to the following questions (no more than 500 words total) by February 29 to be considered for the scholarship:

  • How will this program enrich your academic and/or long term goals?
  • What would you do if you didn’t receive the scholarship?
  • Why should teens care about conservation issues?

Scholarship applications must be emailed to: VAZoo.education@norfolk.gov or mailed to: ATTN: Conservation Youth Team, 3500 Granby Streett, Norfolk VA 23504

All applicants will be notified no later than March 25 2016 on scholarship award.

How do I apply for the CYT program?

2016 application period is closed.