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 one-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:

  • CYT training: Monday – Friday, June 26 – June 30, 2017, between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm
  • Shifts: Four consecutive eight-hour days every other week (8:30 am – 4:30 pm). Students select one of the following day groups:
    • Sunday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, with starting dates July 9, July 23, August 6 and August 20.
    • Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday, with starting dates July 12, July 26, August 9 and August 23
  • Conservation events: TBD
  • End of Summer Celebration & Awards Ceremony: August 25, 2017, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • End of Summer Sleepover: TBD
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:

  • CYT training: Monday – Friday, June 26 – June 30, between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm
  • Camps: five consecutive days of eight-hour shifts (8:30 am – 4:30 pm) every other week. Camp Track 1 with starting days: July 10, July 24, August 7, August 21
  • Conservation events: TBD
  • End of Summer Celebration & Awards Ceremony: August 25, 2017, Time 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • End of Summer Celebration Sleepover: TBD

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 (8:30 am – 4:30 pm) as assigned (approximately 150 hours)

What is the timeline?

  • Information sessions:
    – Jan 14 from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
    – Jan 29  from 10:00 am to 11:00 am
    – Feb 12 from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm
  • Application and Recommendation Form due: February 28, 2017
  • Potential interviews: March 22, March 25, or March 26, 2017 (if selected, applicants will need to attend one interview session in person)
  • Summer orientation: Thursday, June 8 at 6 pm or Saturday, June 10 at 2:30 pm (Parents only need to attend one orientation)
  • Required one-week training: Monday – Friday, June 26 – June 30, 2017, between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm
  • CYT-specific summer events: TBD

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, name tag, and additional program materials.

How do I apply for the CYT program?

The 2017 application period will open on December 1, 2016. Apply here.