The Virginia Zoo’s Conservation Youth Team (CYT) program is a high school volunteer and youth development program that was created for teens who want to learn more about animals and conservation, earn community service hours, and spend their summer at the Virginia Zoo! The summer kicks off with an exciting, jam packed week of training that focuses on learning the zoo, conservation basics, ecology, and education techniques. Throughout the summer, CYT participants educate zoo guests about our animals, support our Summer Safari Camp programs, travel to different local organizations to help with conservation projects, and become part of the Virginia Zoo community! As a member of the Conservation Youth Team, teens will develop important job and life skills, build self-confidence, earn community service hours, and learn about what they can do to help our environment!

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not have a new application for the 2021 Summer Program in order to give our 2020 applicants an opportunity to participate. We look forward to welcoming new applicants in late 2021 and 2022! We will keep this page updated with any program changes based on current health and safety guidelines.


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

Guide Track

CYT participants in this track hone their education and public speaking skills while providing enriching guest experiences. Guide Track CYT participants will become familiar with Zoo stories and animals while encouraging and sharing their passion for conservation with Zoo guests! Applicants to this track should have an interest in educating and communicating animal and conservation information with visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

Camp Track

CYT participants in this track will mentor campers and assist our Camp instructors with our Summer Safari Camp Programs. Camp Track CYT participants 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.

What Are the Requirements?

Teen applicants should:

  • Indicate a track preference on their application
  • Be in high school (17 years of age or under), including incoming ninth graders
  • Demonstrate an eagerness to learn and to work with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Be available to attend all important program dates listed
  • Be willing to volunteer for eight-hour days (8:30 am – 4:15 pm) as assigned (approximately 150 hours for the summer)


More information coming soon.


If you are selected to participate in the Conservation Youth Team, there is a required $100 registration fee. This amount covers your Zoo uniform shirts, name tag, and additional program materials.


The Virginia Zoo offers a scholarship for first year applicants to the Conservation Youth Team. The scholarship will cover the registration fee of $100. Applicants must fill out the final question on the CYT application to be considered for this scholarship.

Scholarship application is coming soon.


The application for the Conservation Youth Team is currently closed.