News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
April 7, 2016
Note: Images of the King Conservation Science Scholars may be downloaded below.
Members of CZS's King Conservation Science Scholars Program

King Conservation Science Scholars Program Educates Teens, Inspires Conservation
Chicago Zoological Society Program Accepting Applications for 2016 Season

Brookfield, Ill.—Encouraging teens to learn more about animals and conservation, the Chicago Zoological Society’s (CZS) King Conservation Science Scholars program is an opportunity for high school students to make a difference in their communities while preparing for their future. With a focus on developing well-rounded conservation-minded individuals, the program uses engaging and interactive learning to connect students with wildlife and nature.

Scholar in the program are required to participate in 120 hours of community service, some of which is coordinated through the program and the rest through their own community action project, which they initiate based on their individual passions and interests. Students also have the opportunity to work on internal projects at Brookfield Zoo, get a behind-the-scenes perspective of life at the zoo, take science elective classes, shadow animal care or veterinary staff, develop crucial leadership skills through team-building activities, and even travel internationally working side-by-side with field researchers.

One of the most compelling components of the King Conservation Science Scholars program is the ability to practice their skills and have some fun while volunteering at Brookfield Zoo events such as Summer Nights, Holiday Magic, and Zoo Run Run.

“The program offers students the chance to grow both personally and professionally,” says Luis Mendez, manager of high school and college outreach programs and also an alumnus of the program. “The majority of current and former participants consider the program a life-changing experience they carry with them for years to come.”

In addition to the hands-on learning opportunities, scholars participate in internal workshops focusing on topics such as animal behavior observation, zoo horticulture, NatureStart training, and preparation of college applications and resumes.

Two cohorts of scholars will be admitted to the program in 2016.  For students interested in starting the program in May, applications are accepted until April 29. For students interested in starting the program in December, applications will be accepted from August 1 through October 28. Students must be entering grades 9 to 11 and be 13 to 17 years old. To apply, students must complete an application, submit an essay of at least 500 words describing an animal with which they think they share characteristics, and submit two letters of recommendation.

In addition, this year the Chicago Zoological Society’s King Scholars will partner with the Illinois Institute of Technology to host a Teen Conservation Leadership Conference from August 3 to 5 to expose students around Chicago to careers in conservation and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Participants attending the conference will also have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning through the use of games, crafts, and research projects. It is the scholars’ goal to bring together up to 500 teens to share their interests in a variety of STEM topics as they relate to conservation. The conference is not only an opportunity for the Society to showcase the King Conservation Science Scholars but also a way for teen presenters from other institutions to discuss some of the projects they have collaborated on. Furthermore, the event will allow teens to have access to professionals in various STEM-based fields and to investigate potential opportunities to pursue a career. Representatives from colleges and universities also will be available to talk to attendees about various academic programs related to conservation and STEM.

Currently, the more than 240 students enrolled in the program come from all over Chicagoland, bringing diversity and varying perspectives. For more information, visit the Society’s Conservation Action page at or email


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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