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.

Available VolunTEEN pathways include the following: Trailblazer, Junior Interpreter, and Junior Counselor; DigiTeen and EnviroTEEN. Limited Offerings include Junior Caretaker and Teen Advisory Council.

Time Commitment

Each VolunTEEN Pathway has a specific number volunteer hours required over the course of the year. These hours are broken into three distinct seasons: Summer, Fall, and Spring. Most hours are obtained through pathway assignments

Trailblazers spend most of their time on grounds, here at the Zoo, interpreting information about our animals to guests.

DigiTeens spend most of their time working remotely on specific assignments, writing scripts, creating content, and analyzing data. In addition to these responsibilities, DigiTeens will also participate in community service projects: visiting animal shelters, cleaning streams, etc.

The program is a year round program, with a minimum number of hours needed in each season.

VolunTEEN Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How old do you have to be to apply?

A: To apply, you must be in 8th-12th grade at the time of application.

Q: What is a VolunTEEN pathway?

A: Pathways are designated titles and responsibilities for a VolunTEEN. At the beginning of each year, Teens apply for a pathway for the following year. The VolunTEEN pathway lasts from May through April of the following year.

Q: As a first year Teen, what pathways are available?

A: All first year teens begin the program as either a Trailblazer or DigiTEEN. Trailblazers primarily focus in on grounds interpretation, talking to guests about our animals. DigiTEENs perform as a virtual assistants, helping with data collection and program development.

Q: After my first year as a Teen, what pathways are available?

A: As Teens gain experience in the program, additional pathways such as Junior Interpreter, Junior Counselor, Junior Caretaker, and more become available. Junior Interpreters interact with guests at a greater variety of animals and help train Trailblazers. Junior Counselors assist the Zoo's Camp Counselors with camp activities. Junior Caretakers help care for animals alongside the Zoo's Animal Care Specialists.

Q: How long does the VolunTEEN program last?

A: The VolunTEEN program is a year long program with three seasons: Summer (May-August), Fall (September-December), and Spring (January-April). Each season has its own hour requirements in order to participate in the next season.

Q: How many hours are required to be a VolunTEEN?

A: Hours depend on the season and selected pathway. Summer seasons require more hours than Fall and Spring. In-person pathways (Trailblazers) require more hours than digital pathways (DigiTEENs).

Q: I'm currently a senior, can I apply?

A: Yes! You will only be able to attend the Summer season, but you may participate in the VolunTEEN program as a recent high school senior graduate.

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