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By Heather Pollauf | 

The Toledo Zoo offers all kinds of learning opportunities for its visitors, but they also offer a hands-on volunteer experience for teens! The application process for next year starts in just a couple of months.

The ZooTeens program takes volunteers behind-the-scenes for both special events, and the everyday operations of the zoo.

Bill Davis, Volunteer Manager with the zoo, tells 13abc, “You get to participate in a lot of great activities. Everything from helping out here at the zoo, to supporting summer camps, you’ll be hanging out in the new museum of science, which will be a fabulous space, the aquarium.”

The program also helps teens improve their personal skills.

Davis explains, “They learn how to talk to people very comfortably, problem-solving, team-building, any number of life skills that will be of great benefit to them.”

ZooTeens is open to anyone 13-17 years old. Interested teens will learn about the program at an informational session in January or February, interview in March, and start training in April. The minimum requirement is for teens to work 60 hours during the program, but Davis says that’s an easy goal for the 6-month program. And he says it’s a great opportunity that can be rare for the age group.

“I think there’s a myth in America that young people don’t want to get involved in stuff. I think the reality is that there aren’t that many opportunities.” Davis says of the ZooTeens program, “Typically you have to be at least 16 or at least 18 or have a parent with you. This is an opportunity for teens to get involved in something that’s meaningful and fun, meet a lot of people and start building the rest of their lives.”



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