Zoo program offers volunteer opportunities

Teenagers with messy rooms take heart. The Brevard Zoo’s Teen Program could be just what you need.

“If you would rather clean out an alpaca stall than clean your room, this might be a good place for you,” Meg Leigh, the Children’s Play and Zoo Teen Coordinator, said via email.­

The program offers teenagers ages 13-16 an opportunity to explore wildlife conservation through education and preparation as they earn community service hours and explore new career paths.

“Teens can get excited about wildlife and conservation in a way that sometimes connects with younger kids better than the adults can,” Lieth said.­ “I think a lot of teens care about how we treat our planet.”

Zoo Teens interact with guests, keeper staff and animals throughout the day.  Some of the activities teens help with include working in the Petting Zone, assisting with care of education animals, taking out a discovery cart, handling small animals at the Zoo entrance and assisting with programs for children.  During the summer, Zoo Teens volunteer with summer camp.

“Zoo Teens start the program a little shy, but they learn to be comfortable talking to Zoo guests and groups of kids,” said Lieth, who added that teens don’t need a lot of experience with animals but need to be willing to work hard and get dirty.

“We believe that teens have the ability to make a big difference when given the opportunity,” she said.  “It can be very rewarding.”

The Zoo Teen Program also raises money for conservation projects, and this year has taken in more than $2,000.

The Zoo Volunteer Program offers volunteer opportunities for anyone over the age of 16.  Volunteers help with anything from special events to educational programs.

“You come across something new each time,” zoo volunteer Nancy Salerno said.  “It’s a fun and interesting way to help the community.”

More information can be found on the website: http://brevardzoo.org/volunteer.

By Taylor Eenhuis