Youth Volunteers at Texas Zoos

Updated Jan. 2016

You would think that with 4 dogs, a cat, a bird, a turtle, a toad and fish tanks my kids would get plenty of practice at the art of cleaning up poop, but apparently not.  My children have applied to volunteer at the Dallas Zoo.

.dallas zoo giraffe

If accepted, this will be my son’s 6th year and my daughter’s 4th, so they know they love it!  Chosen from over 1200 applicants, their responsibilities are to clean up after the animals, assist the zookeepers and answer questions for zoo guest.

Youth volunteers agree to work one day a week for appoximately 11 weeks, either during the spring, summer or fall sessions.  Each day they are taken on a zoo “behind the scenes” tour to learn about different areas of the zoo, then spend the day helping the keepers in the Lacerte Children’s Zoo.  Not only do they get to learn about the zoo, but they are earning volunteer hours for scouts and references for future college applications!

Texas Zoos and Youth Volunteers

Zoos love and appreciate their volunteers.  If you think that it is something your children would enjoy, browse this list of  Texas Zoos and their Youth Volunteer Requirements:

Abilene Zoo–  The Zoo Teens program is for students entering 8th grade and above.  They  volunteer during the summer with the Education and Animal Care staff.  Applications are available each February.

Amarillo Zoo– Teen Volunteers must be 13-17 years of age.  They must complete 4 hours of volunteer work each month or 48 hours of volunteer service during the summer.  Applications are taken year round, with trainings held several times a year.

Austin Zoo – no Youth Volunteering programs at this time.

Caldwell Zoo (Tyler) – no Youth Volunteering programs at this time.

Cameron Park Zoo (Waco) – Zoo crew program is for teens 14-17  years of age.   An interview, background check, and training are required.  If accepted, a commitment of at least 60 volunteer hours during the summer is also required.  Zoo Crew assists the Education Department with Zoo Camp, programs and education animal care.  Applications are due in April.

Capital of Texas Zoo (Cedar Creek) – Junior Keepers must be 13 years of age, commit to one year of volunteering. Junior Keepers are expected to work a minimum of two days a month during the winter, and one day a week during the summer, and to work at least one holiday.

Dallas Zoo–  Participants must be 11 years old, and work one day a week during either a spring, summer or fall session as a Junior Zookeeper (11-12 year olds) or a Conservation Guide (13-17 year olds).  Applications are accepted each December.

Ellen Trout Zoo (Lufkin) – no Youth Volunteering Program at this time.

El Paso Zoo– no Youth Volunteering programs at this time.

Fort Worth Zoo –  Weekday Home School Volunteens is a program for 12-17 year olds to assist the zoo’s preschool teachers, once a week for half a day during either the Spring or Fall session.  Applications are due each May for the upcoming year.    Summer Volunteens is for one week during the summer assisting staff in Summer Zoo Camps.  Teens in grades 7-9 will assist in half-day camps from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and teens in grades 10-12 will assist in full-day camps from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Applications are available Jan. 1 – Mar. 1 for the summer.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (Glen Rose) – Junior Docents are ages 11 to 17 years and have shown a commitment to the survival of the animals in peril. Many of our junior docents are planning careers in wildlife.

Frank Buck Zoo (Gainesville)  – Members of the Jr. Zoo Crew are 14-18 years of age, and is limited to only 20 students/year.  The participants assist with animal care and feeding, as well as informing and educating zoo guest.  Applications are taken each May for the summer sessions.

Fritz Park Petting Farm (Irving) – Children 12 years of age or older may become petting farm volunteers if they possess the ability to follow directions, have a strong sense of responsibility, and a love for animals and children. Volunteers help in many ways at the petting farm: assist in the feeding of animals; help maintain a clean environment for both the animals and visitors; and assist staff in other ways, such as showing the animals.

Gladys Porter Zoo (Brownsville) – Summer Teen Program is designed for students in grades 8 – 12 to volunteer at the Zoo to gain valuable work experience and learn responsibility. Teens work in the Children’s Zoo, the Education Department, the Australian building, the clinic and the Herpetarium. Teens must first apply to the program, and then approximately 30 teens are accepted to work each summer.

Houston Zoo–  Summer Zoo Crew assist the zoo in one of six departments; Theatrical Interpretation, Education, Camp Zoofari, Horticulture, Animal Nutrition and Animal Care (the latter three are only for 2nd + year crew members).  Volunteers are 13-18 years of age, and work an estimated 107-127 hours each year!  Applications are due each February.

San Antonio Zoo– Youth Volunteers are 14-18 years of age, and must participate in Summer Camp or Summer Naturalist before selection will be considered.  Zoo Team members work year round, at least 6 hours a month.  Zoo Team members can also volunteer to be Summer Naturalist or Summer Camp Team Assistants.

Texas Zoo (Victoria) – Junior Volunteer Program applications are accepted in January.