The Kansas City Zoo VolunTEEN program creates accessible opportunities for young adults to develop sustainable lifestyles and humane perspectives. This comprehensive program promotes the personal and professional development of teenagers and develops teens to become empowered community leaders with experienced workplace values.
We are seeking mature, responsible teens with an aptitude for leadership. Applicants should enjoy working with the public and show interest in animals and conservation. VolunTEENs will lead discussions and demonstrate activities to groups of children and adults, so good communication skills are a must. Enthusiasm, confidence, and a positive attitude are required!
Applications for the 2023-2024 season are now open! Apply before February 28, 2023. Learn more at an open house on Saturday, January 14th.
The VolunTEEN program is a year round program with hour requirements broken into three distinct seasons: summer (May - August), fall (September - December), and spring (January - April). Hour requirements for each season are determined by the teen's pathway.
The VolunTEEN program offers opportunities through year long pathways. These paths provide teens unique opportunities and develop their expertise in specific areas - communication, education, technology, animal care, and leadership. Teens apply for their desired pathway at the beginning of each year. First year volunTEENs apply to be a Trailblazer or DigiTeen. After their first year, teens may apply for other pathways.
Trailblazers spend most of their time in the Zoo, talking to guests about our animals. This pathway introduces teens to zoological careers and develops their communication and public speaking skills.
DigiTeens spend most of their time working remotely on online assignments. This pathway builds teens skills based on their unique interests in the field of graphic design, data analysis, and writing. DigiTeens must also participate in their local community in line with the Zoo's mission. Community service examples include volunteering at a local animal shelter, coordinating cleaning a local stream, or other environmentally beneficial opportunities.
Junior Interpreters build on their communication skills gained from completing the Trailblazer pathway. These teens act as mentors to new Trailblazers and interpret at new animal areas. This pathway continues refining communication skills and promotes leadership within the program.
Junior Counselors use their knowledge gained from completing the Trailblazer pathway. These teens assist zoo camp counselors with tours, activities, and lessons. This pathway continues to teach teens more about career opportunities and gives teens experience in the education field.
EnviroTeens build on their experiences gained from completing the DigiTeen pathway. These teens continue to work remotely with a greater emphasis in their desired field. They also serve as mentor to new DigiTeens and help in the creation of assignments and virtual opportunities for the program.
Junior Caretakers gain experience caring for animals at the Kansas City Zoo. The number of teens accepted to this pathway is limited. Working alongside animal care specialists, these teens assist in the cleaning, feeding, and enriching our animals' daily routines. This pathway focuses on exploring animal care focused fields and practical career experience.
Teen Advisory Council
The Teen Advisory Council (TAC) acts as a leadership team for the VolunTEEN program. The number of teens accepted to this pathway is limited. These teens help in planning activities, opportunities, and fundraising for the program. This pathway focuses on leadership and networking teens with zoological career opportunities.