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8 Wildlife Conservation Programs for High School Students

High school is the ideal time to pursue your passions and interests outside of the school curriculum. If you are a high school student interested in wildlife conservation, these popular programs and internships offer a unique and enriching opportunity for you to significantly enhance your understanding, skills, and passion for conservation efforts. 


Participation in these will not only boost your CV, but will also offer you hands-on research experience as well as strengthen your college applications. Colleges and universities today are increasingly looking for students who demonstrate a passion for learning and the ability to think critically and creatively. These programs can set you apart as a well-rounded and intellectually curious applicant.


Location: Costa Rica and Amazon + Galápagos Islands

Cost

  • Costa Rica Sea Turtle + Marine Conservation: $5480

  •  Amazon + Galápagos Islands Eco Adventure: $7580

Program Dates: 14-20 days, typically between June to August 

Application Deadline: Rolling applications

Eligibility

  • Costa Rica Sea Turtle + Marine Conservation: High School Students

  • Amazon + Galápagos Islands Eco Adventure: Must be at least 16 years old. Intro to Biology or equivalent experience required.


Broadreach offers two wildlife conservation summer programs for high school students—Costa Rica Sea Turtle + Marine Conservation and Amazon + Galápagos Islands Eco Adventure. Both these programs cater to students who hold a deep interest in biology and conservation, coupled with a desire for adventurous experiences. During these programs, participants will conduct hands-on research and biological surveys alongside professional conservationists; gain direct experience with the animals and environments they are studying; learn about and help implement conservation initiatives; and engage in activities such as hiking, snorkeling and rafting.


The Costa Rica Sea Turtle + Marine Conservation program is a 14-day land based adventure wherein participants will work on data collection of sea turtle hatchlings and have the opportunity to earn two natural science college credits. The Amazon + Galápagos Islands Eco Adventure is a 20-day land based program wherein participants will have the chance to explore the Amazon River basin and observe the rare species of the Galápagos Islands. Students can also earn three natural science college credits in this program.


You can explore more adventurous programs offered by Broadreach here!


Location: Gretna, Nebraska

Cost: Free!

Program Dates: June - July

Application Deadline: No deadline. Students can email their resume to info@wildlifeencounters.org

Eligibility: Must be enrolled 9th through 12th grade


High school students seeking to fulfill volunteer requirements or gain hands-on experience in the wildlife conservation and education sector can apply to be Summer Camp Counselor Volunteers with Wildlife Encounters. As a counselor volunteer, participants will lead group activities, maintain a lively and secure environment for campers, and gain valuable experience working with animal ambassadors.


Location: Bronx Zoo, New York (Virtual Field Trips also available)

Cost: Varies between $150 to $200 depending on the program

Program Dates: Varies with the program type

Application Deadline: No deadline. Students can register on the website.

Eligibility: Grades 9th - 12th


The Bronx Zoo in New York offers a variety of field trips for high school students, ranging from guided tours, self-led scavenger hunts, in-person classroom programs and virtual field trips. Topics include studying animal behavior, curbing the carbon footprint, wildlife careers and conservation and much more. Each program is designed to meet relevant learning standards, while ensuring an exciting experience for all participants: exploring wildlife, meeting an animal, and engaging in an active learning environment


While the in-person classroom programs include a Bronx Zoo educator leading the class through an hour-long wild experience, the virtual field trips offer a 45-minute online visit of the zoo from anywhere in the world. Guided tours, on the other hand, focus on a specific theme and are adapted based on grade level, whereas scavenger hunts offer the participants to go on a self-guided science adventure of the Zoo. 


Location: Based on your locality. Hutton aims to match students within a 45-minute commute of their home.

Cost/Stipend: Participating students receive a $3000 stipend and an all-expense paid trip to the Hutton Scholars Summit at the University of Arkansas.

Program Dates: 8 weeks in the summer

Application Deadline: January 16, 2024

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors, rising high school seniors, and rising college freshmen.


The Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program is a selective 8-week paid summer internship and mentoring program sponsored by the American Fisheries Society. The program encourages students’ interest in fisheries and aquatic science, especially among underrepresented groups. About 27 students are selected to be Hutton Scholars every year. 


As a Hutton Scholar, participants will be paired with and mentored by a fisheries professional in their area. You will gain hands-on fisheries science experience in marine or freshwater, conducting laboratory and field research, engage in resource conservation and management projects, and learn about career opportunities. Some possible activities include electrofishing, examining specimens, data procession, establishing aquatic vegetation and fish habitats, and more!


We’ve covered the program in detail here!


Location: Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago

Cost: Paid internship

Program Dates: June 24 - August 9, 2024

Application Deadline: Openings and deadlines are updated on the website. 

Eligibility: Chicago high school students entering grades 10 - 12


The Malott Family Zoo Intern Program is an in-person seven-week paid internship for Chicago high school students to gain insights into the Lincoln Park Zoo while also educating others about animal and conservation science. During the internship, participants will explore effective ways to convey conservation messages to zoo visitors and collaborate on a final project. They will also have the opportunity to interact with researchers and Animal Care staff to find out about potential career paths in the fields of conservation and animal science.


Location: Various locations (depending on the program)

Cost: Ranges between $7990 to $9590 + airfare 

Program Dates: June - August (varies with the program type)

Application Deadline: Rolling applications.

Eligibility: Grades 9th - 12th


National Geographic’s summer programs for high school students focus on immersing the participants in destinations around the globe, encouraging them to interact with the world as a thoughtful explorer. Participating in such programs will not only enhance your understanding of the landscape they visit, but will also offer you a chance to work on a finished project that you can share with their family, community, and admissions officers.


Currently, National Geographic offers three wildlife conservation programs for high school students—Canadian Arctic: Polar Bear Capital of the World; Ecuador & the Galápagos: Biodiversity Hotspot; and Namibia: Desert Safari & Big Cat Conservation. During the 11-day Canadian Arctic program, participants will experience this habitat and wildlife up close, using an Arctic research facility in Churchill, Manitoba, as their base. They'll head out with a National Geographic Explorer to discover how Arctic animals survive the extreme conditions and how people living there are dealing with climate change.


During the 18-day Ecuador & the Galápagos: Biodiversity Hotspot program, participants will meet with conservationists working to protect endangered Galápagos species; hike up to a glacier on the still-smoldering Cotopaxi Volcano; observe sea turtles and Galápagos penguins in their natural habitat; and much more! Lastly, the 22-day Namibia: Desert Safari & Big Cat Conservation program involves experiencing conservation in action with National Geographic Explorers and leading ecologists. Participants will get the opportunity to photograph iconic African wildlife on safari in the world-renowned Etosha National Park; learn from experts how technology is used to monitor wildlife; go sea kayaking in Walvis Bay; and climb the dunes of the Namib Desert.


Location: Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation campus. 

Cost: $2,300 (includes instruction, room and board, tuition, and activity fees)

Program Dates: June 23 – June 29, 2024

Application Deadline: No deadline. Students can register on the website.

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors


The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Virginia offers an in-person wildlife conservation program for high school students—Introduction to Field Conservation Ecology. Apart from learning alongside an international community of researchers and industry professionals, participants will also get the opportunity to earn two college credits through George Mason University!


This program offers students hands-on exposure to conservation fieldwork wherein they will learn how they can contribute to the long-term survival of species in natural habitats. As part of the program, they will also define an ecological research question, conduct a guided pilot study, and share their findings in a final presentation and poster.


Location: San Diego Zoo Safari Park, California

Cost: Details not available on website.

Program Dates: Spring and Fall semester

Application Deadline: Sign-ups for the Fall 2024 semester will be available on the website in August.

Eligibility: High School Students


The San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Conservation Corps is a hands-on program for high school students to learn about conservation and environmental issues, while developing a better understanding of how to coexist with wildlife and animal welfare. Apart from exciting learning opportunities, you will also have the opportunity to give back to the community by participating in conservation projects in San Diego County, and learn from and network with experts and professionals in various conservation fields.



If you’re interested in pursuing research in fields like wildlife conservation, biology, or related fields, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: National Geographic logo

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