11 April 2014

National Youth Week is a time for celebration at our zoos. This time last year Zoos Victoria launched the Youth at the Zoo (YATZ) membership, a unique specialist education membership for 13-18 year old students who want to help fight the extinction of threatened species.

It turns out saving species and committing to creating a better environment is something that many young people have an appetite for. Just one year on since YATZ launched, Zoos Victoria has signed up over 65 members.

The year-long membership offers a range of education and conservation opportunities during school holidays. Students have met with conservation professionals, participated in education sessions and have helped with the development of the entrance to the Lemur Island exhibit at Melbourne Zoo.

Sixteen year old Ringwood student, James Buckley has been involved in YATZ for about six months and believes the opportunities for new experiences and making likeminded friends is the key to a successful program, ‘My highlight is the friends I have created and learning about the different careers at the zoo.’ he said.

The students have also helped zoo visitors become more aware of some of the issues facing the world’s wildlife; engaging more than 4,200 visitors in Melbourne Zoo’s palm oil campaign, Don’t Palm us Off. Many students have taken these campaigns back to their schools and local communities, helping spread the word about some of the biggest threats wildlife is currently facing.

Fifteen year old Templestowe student Lauren Moolman has been part of YATZ since it began. Lauren loves having something to do every holidays. ‘I used to sit at home like many other teens, and do nothing productive with my time. Now I get the amazing opportunity to go to the zoo and learn amazing new things, run activities for the public that are both fun and educational and I get to mingle with people who share the same interests. What's not to love!’

Find out more about YATZ membership.