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8 Zoology Internships for High School Students

High school is the ideal time to pursue your passions and interests outside of the school curriculum. If one of the subjects you’re keen on is animal sciences, there’s a range of zoology internships you can choose from. These internship programs, held in the summer or during the academic year, can give you a deeper insight into your chosen field. Not only that, they also offer the opportunity to gain valuable real-world experience – which has a significant impact on your college applications, future academics and career!  

Doing a zoology internship during high school allows students to explore potential career paths before deciding on their college major. Practical involvement with animals can provide insights into the daily responsibilities of a zoologist, facilitate the development of essential skills, and offer networking opportunities with experienced professionals. Not to mention, for those passionate about wildlife and conservation, a zoology internship allows active contribution to the well-being of animals and ecosystems, fostering a sense of responsibility for environmental stewardship.

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible to apply.

Location: Washington, D.C. with some options for virtual or hybrid internships. 

Stipend: All interns will be paid a stipend, the amount may vary.

Application Deadline: There is no information on this at the moment. Check their website for updates!

Program dates: Varies (typically 8-12 weeks)

The Smithsonian National Zoo offers a diverse range of internship opportunities, such as working with animal care staff and research in zoology medicine. Interns gain hands-on experience with various species while contributing to the zoo's mission of animal conservation and public education. These internship opportunities provide a student the unique insight into the world of zoology through a blend of education and practical application.

Eligibility: High school students entering grades 10-12, who are between 15-18 years old, can apply.

Location: The Malott Family Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 

Cost/Stipend: None.

Application Deadline: Openings are updated on the website, along with application dates.

Program dates: Typically end of June to mid-August.

This internship program offers Chicago high school students the chance to work in the world of the Lincoln Park Zoo, while actively engaging in animal and conservation science education. During this paid program, interns will contemplate effective ways to convey conservation messages to zoo visitors and collaborate on a final project. The experience includes interactions with researchers and animal care staff, providing interns with insights into potential careers within the fields of animal science and conservation. During the application process, invited applicants will come to the zoo in April for a half-day group interview. You’ll get to meet the animals, zoo staff, and your fellow applicants.

Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors or seniors who are between 16-18 years old, can apply. Look through the internship requirements.

Location: North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, NC

Stipend/Cost: No cost, and this is an unpaid opportunity.

Application Deadline: April 5, 2024

Program dates: 6 weeks in the summer (mid-June to July). Interns are expected to work two 6-hour shifts per week, plus attend 2-hour training sessions every week.

Note: There are 4 of these junior internship positions available.

Wildlife rehabilitation is the care of sick, injured, and orphaned native wildlife for return back into the wild, in a condition that will optimize their chances of survival. During this internship, students will assist with the routine daily care of wildlife patients and resident animals. Intern duties include but are not limited to husbandry and feeding, admitting patients, answering phones and record-keeping. Interns may have the opportunity to assist with medical tasks, as directed by the veterinary staff, such as administering treatments, helping with radiographs and assisting with surgeries. In addition, interns may participate in special projects, tours, training, building/maintenance, and animal rescues. 

Eligibility: Students who live and have residency in the United States, Mexico and Canada are eligible to apply. The program is open to current high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. 

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

Cost/Stipend: Fully funded, and a stipend of $3,000 provided to interns. Interns also get a fully-funded trip to the Hutton Scholars Summit at the University of Arkansas.

Application Deadline: January 16, 2024

Program Dates: 8 weeks in the summer.

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, you will be paired with and mentored by a fisheries professional in your area. You will gain hands-on fisheries science experience in marine or freshwater, conducting laboratory and field research. 

You will 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!

An added benefit is an all-expense paid trip to the Hutton Scholars Summit conducted at the University of Arkansas!

Eligibility: The zoo offers a number of internships around the year, and eligibility varies with the role.

Location: Apple Valley, MN

Stipend: Varies with the internship role.

Application Deadline: Depends on the position you’re applying for.

Program dates: Varies from internship to internship.

The Minnesota Zoo offers paid internship opportunities for students interested in marine biology and animal care. Although there are no internship positions open at the moment, do check the website for updates. As an intern, you could engage in the care of marine species, educational programs, or conservation initiatives. These internships provide hands-on experience in dealing with marine species, making it an ideal choice for those keen on marine zoology.

Eligibility: Open to all high school students who are 16 years or older and are New York State residents.

Cost: No cost.

Location: State Univeristy of New York Oneonta campus, Buffalo, NY

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Program Dates: 9 weeks, typically late-May to August.

SUNY Oneonta offers summer research internships for high schoolers and undergraduate students in New York. The SUNY Oneonta internships are highly selective, with only 1-3 positions available for high school students.

In the internship, you will aid faculty and staff at the BFS central lab with their research projects and work on your own research project. Through the summer, you will engage in fieldwork, laboratory analyses, data analysis, and scientific writing. You can view previous publications here! Previous fieldwork and laboratory analyses experiences include:

  • Fisheries and plant surveys

  • Water sampling

  • Water chemistry

  • Zooplankton ID and

  • Fish dissection

The program concludes with you presenting a research poster to showcase your findings to your mentor, BSF faculty, and other interns.

Eligibility: Students who are at least 18 years old with a strong interest in zoology, biology, or related fields, can apply.

Location: Los Angeles Zoo, Los Angeles, CA.

Cost: Interns will be paid $16.75 per hour

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Program dates: 10 weeks spanning June-August.

The Los Angeles Zoo Internship Program provides a paid opportunity for students to work alongside zoo professionals. Although you have to be at least 18 years old to participate, it may be an ideal program from many graduating high school seniors. Interns gain exposure to various aspects of zoology, including animal husbandry, research, and conservation. There are two programs offered: the Conservation Internship and the Learning & Engagement Internship. Conservation interns will work directly with the Zoo’s conservation team, gaining real-world experience in science, research, and conservation skills. The learning and engagement team members facilitate conversations about wildlife conservation, nature, and animal welfare with the diverse communities that visit the LA Zoo through informal programming for general visitors. Both internship programs are designed to foster a deep appreciation for wildlife and inspire the next generation of zoologists.

Eligibility: Graduating seniors who are at least 18 years old can apply. 

Location: Atlanta, GA

Stipend: Interns will be paid a stipend, but information on the amount is not available.

Application Deadline: Openings are continuously updated, along with application dates.

Program dates: Typically 8-12 weeks (20-40 hours per week). 

The Georgia Aquarium offers graduating high school students a valuable internship opportunity aimed at providing hands-on experience, professional connections, and a unique learning experience at one of the largest aquariums in the world. The internship program supports various departments within the aquarium. Interns have the chance to work with Zoological Operations and non-Zoological Operations teams, such as Event Services, Dive Operations, and Animal Training. These internships serve as extensions of the classroom, offering a practical learning experience where students can apply their academic knowledge. The program includes well-defined learning objectives, supervision from experienced professionals and regular feedback. Check the careers page for more information on internship opportunities as they come up. 

Bonus — the Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research in criminology, law, policy, or other related subjects, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, over 4000 students applied 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.

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: Smithsonian logo



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