Kids Volunteering at the Zoo
It’s time to talk about youth volunteers! Zoo Atlanta has two programs for youth volunteers: J.O.E.Y.s for kids ages 8-13, and Volunteens for teens ages 14-17. Both programs require an application and a full year commitment, but both offer tons of opportunities to get involved at the Zoo. Read on for more details about each program, as well as where to find more information and how to get involved.
J.O.E.Y. Volunteers serve with a parent or guardian. They spend most of their time assisting with public events (such as Boo at the Zoo, Play the Animal Way, Endangered Species Day, Animal Awareness Days, and more). Kids in this program will develop their confidence, public speaking and leadership skills by running activity and game stations, greeting and directing guests around the Zoo, and more at these events. It’s not all work on this team, though! J.O.E.Y.s also get their own special quarterly learning sessions, called J.O.E.Y. Junctions, to learn more about the Zoo, the animals that call it home, and how we care for them. There are more new features being added to the program for next year, so now is the perfect time to get involved!
The Volunteen program is an independent program for teens ages 14-17. While Volunteens also serve on public event days, that’s only a small portion of what a teen can do in this program. Service areas include habitat interpretation, public events, Safari Camp, educational programs, and even animal husbandry or other behind-the-scenes areas. Volunteens will develop their confidence, public speaking, animal knowledge, customer service, and professional career skills in this program. There’s plenty of room to grow each year, too, and many Volunteens remain in the program for multiple years. Teens with interests in careers in animal care, education, research or conservation would be excellent fits for this program.
For both programs, the next program year will run from June 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021. The year is broken into three semesters: Summer (June 1 through August 31), Fall (September 1 through December 31), and Spring (January 1 through May 31). The J.O.E.Y. program requires participants to commit to serving at a minimum of three events per semester, or nine events total during the program year. The Volunteen program requires participants to commit to serving at least 160 service hours over the course of the program year: 100 hours are required in the summer, 30 hours are required in the fall, and 30 hours are required in the spring. Many J.O.E.Y. and Volunteen participants choose to serve well over the minimum requirements. There’s no upper limit on service hours. We love our Volunteers, and we’d love to see you as often as you’d like to be here!
Applications for next year opened for both programs on Friday, November 1, 2019, and will close on Saturday, February 1, 2020. There will be two preview nights for each program to help you learn more. Check out the Zoo Atlanta website for more information, to find links to the applications, and to register for the preview nights. You can also reach out to TeenVolunteer@zooatlanta.org with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you and your kids!