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Summer Zoo Internships for High School Students across the United States - 2024 Edition

February 11, 2024

Explore the Wild this Summer with a Zoo Internship

Winter is here but that doesn't mean we can't plan for the summer. And when summer arrives, high school students will have the opportunity to break free from the confines of the classroom. If you are a high school student seeking unique, educational, hands-on experiences with college application appeal, read on. A summer zoo internship might be just for you.

For students with a passion for zoology, environmental conservation, or simply an interest in wildlife, a zoo internship can be the perfect summer adventure. More than just a pastime, these internships offer a unique opportunity to explore potential career paths, gain valuable work experience, and make unforgettable memories.

A zoo internship is not simply about feeding animals or cleaning poop. It is a chance to engage directly with animal life, to learn from experienced zookeepers, veterinarians, and conservationists, and to participate in the daily operations of a functioning zoological institution. As an intern you might find yourself researching different species, assisting with educational programs, and experiencing up-close encounters with animals, such as feeding giraffes and observing veterinary care.

In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the benefits of pursuing an internship at the zoo, what to look for in a program, and introduce you to some internships for high school students available across the United States this summer.

The Benefits of Zoo Internships

There are plenty of ways to spend your summer, from catching up on sleep to hanging out with friends, working part-time jobs, or even just binging your favorite shows. But consider this... A zoo internship doesn't just offer an escape from the usual—it provides an immersive and educational experience that stands out on college applications and resumes. It’s an opportunity to not only explore your passions but also to gain hands-on experience that few others your age will have.

In a zoo internship, you're not just observing, you're participating. You're working alongside experts in wildlife and conservation, learning the ins and outs of different ecosystems, and contributing to the educational and preservation missions of the zoological institutions. Plus, how many of your peers can say they spent their summer working with wolves, tigers, or elephants?

Now beyond the obvious cool things, a zoo internship will also help you develop skills that will serve you for life. As an example, you can volunteer for public speaking opportunities which will help you sharpen those communication skills and help you convey ideas clearly to different audiences. Communication and public speaking skills are skills highly valued across all professional fields. By collaborating on different projects and being involved in daily zoo operations you will learn how to work professionally as part of a team, navigating challenges together and achieving shared goals. These experiences build a foundation not only for your resume but also for your character. Moreover, the relationships you form during your internship wil create a professional network that can offer guidance, support, and opportunities well into the future. In a world where early experiences can significantly shape your career, starting with such a distinctive advantage positions you ahead of the curve. This compounding benefit means that the skills, knowledge, and connections you gain now will amplify your potential and opportunities down the line, setting you apart in college applications, job interviews, and beyond.

And it's not all just about work, remember to have fun. The friendships you'll forge, the mentorship you'll receive, and the unique experiences you'll have can make your summer unforgettable. A zoo internship provides an exciting environment where each day brings a new adventure. So, why not trade the ordinary for the extraordinary this summer?

2024 Zoo Internship Programs for High School Students in the United States

Let's explore the different zoo internship opportunities for high schoolers available across the United States this summer.

Note: This guide aims to include all zoos offering summer internships for high school students across the United States. If your zoo offers such programs and is not listed here, please drop us an email at info@zooshiring.com with the details. Your help ensures we provide the most accurate resource for students.

Malott Family Zoo Intern Program at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL

If you're a high school student in Chicago then the Malott Family Zoo Intern Program at Lincoln Park Zoo offers a unique mix of education, conservation, and hands-on learning that's hard to find in other places. Throughout the seven-week paid internship, interns have the opportunity to delve into informal education techniques, crafting ways to share vital conservation messages with zoo guests. Interns also gain valuable insights by meeting researchers and animal care staff, exploring different careers in the animal science and conservation fields. As Emma Martell, Director of Child, Teen, and Family Engagement, highlights, "The teen positions at Lincoln Park Zoo are a wonderful way to learn about the wide variety of zoo careers that exist. It takes much more than zookeepers and veterinarians to keep a zoo running! All of our internships offer a chance to learn behind-the-scenes information about the zoo and the animals in our care, and build skills that will transfer to any job like public speaking and collaboration."

The application window for summer 2024 is from February 1 to March 11, so mark your calendars as no applications will be accepted after the deadline.

Internships at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington DC

The National Zoo offers two programs for high schoolers, the Young Ambassadors Program and the Benjamin Lawless Internship.

The Young Ambassadors Program is a five-week leadership program for Latino high school seniors available at the National Zoo and other cultural institutions. Upon completion of the program, participants receive a $2,000 program stipend.

The Benjamin Lawless Internship honors Benjamin Lawless and his legacy as a recognized exhibition planner, designer, filmmaker, and writer. The internship is an opportunity for high school seniors to learn about audience engagement and exhibition design. Interns develop creativity and imagination by finding new ways to tell stories inspired by the Smithsonian's collections and research.

Teen Council for Conservation at LA Zoo in Los Angeles, CA

Join the LA Zoo Teen Council for Conservation and be at the forefront of shaping a sustainable future for Los Angeles. This nine month program invites youth aged 14-18 living in LA to delve into conservation, environmental justice, and climate action. Representing each City Council District, members engage in a blend of virtual and in-person meetings. With a focus driven by its youth members and an educational stipend, it's a unique opportunity to grow as a leader, learn about critical environmental issues, and make a tangible impact in your community.

High School Internship Program at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in Fort Wayne, IN

The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo programs provide a unique blend of experiences and educational growth. Whether assisting with zookeeping, engaging in conservation efforts, or contributing to the zoo's communication strategies, you will gain invaluable insights into the workings of a top zoo. Kathy Terlizzi, Volunteer Programs Manager at the Children's Zoo, said it best: "Through our unpaid internship program, students can gain meaningful experience while meeting school requirements. The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo accepts high school seniors for zookeeping internship positions available throughout the year. The combination of hands-on experience, educational opportunities, the incredible animals in our care, helpful and encouraging staff, the ability to connect with the public on a large scale, and our focus on conservation makes this a unique experience for high school seniors as they explore a potential career working with animals"

Junior Internship Position at North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC

The internship program at the North Carolina Zoo puts care and rehabilitation of native wildlife at the center of the program. Interns will help with the daily care of wildlife patients and resident animals. Duties include husbandry and feeding, admitting patients, answering phone calls and record keeping. Interns even have the opportunity to assist with medical tasks like administering treatments, helping radiographs, and assisting with surgeries.

The program lasts for six weeks and the application deadline is April 5.

High School Assistant Summer Volunteering Program at Milwaukee Zoo in Milwaukee, WI

The Zoological Society of Milwaukee offers an internship program where selected students ages 14-18 spend two weeks assisting with camp activities. These includes handling zoo tours, guiding visitors, and answering questions to people from different ages and backgrounds. You will also get the guidance of a college mentor, which is a very valuable networking opportunity. The application window for Summer 2024 is open now, so be sure to check it out.

The program offers three different sessions: June 17 to July 3, July 8 to July 26, and July 29 to August 14.

Embark on the Journey

In conclusion, starting an internship at a zoo or aquarium offers an unparalleled opportunity for personal and professional growth. Whether you're aiding in wildlife rehabilitation, contributing to conservation efforts, engaging with the public, or exploring the multifaceted operations of zoological institutions, these experiences are more than just summer jobs. They are stepping stones to future careers in animal care, conservation, and beyond. Each program is designed to equip enthusiasts with the skills, knowledge, and connections necessary to excel in their chosen fields. As you consider applying for these enriching opportunities, remember that the journey you embark upon not only benefits the incredible animals in these institutions' care but also contributes to your journey towards making a lasting impact on our planet.