A crowd of twenty-seven zoo members, three kneeling and twenty-one standing, posing in front of a large tree trunk.

Youth Leadership


Email youth@zoo.org.au

Phone (03) 9340 2769

A connected community of young people building Science leadership skills and networks to take action for wildlife.

Application timelines

Applications for the 2024 program are now closed.

Applications for the 2025 program will open in February 2025.

To be the first to hear when applications open and find out the latest information about the program, sign up here.

Program description

Year 9-10 Science students from across the state are invited to join Zoos Victoria’s Youth Leadership program. Students will develop tangible and usable Science skills while growing as a leader in a group environment. They will learn from Zoos Victoria mentors and be supported to undertake a Science research project to inform a wildlife conservation project. Along the way, students will learn about First Peoples connections to the land and how to care for wildlife to ensure a sustainable future.

The program runs for 11 days from May to June 2024.

What students will learn

Students will gain a deep understanding of their capabilities as Science leaders, tap into a sense of purpose and develop knowledge and skills that they will use beyond the program:

  • Leadership skills
  • Science knowledge and skills
  • Communication skills
  • Animal and wildlife conservation experience
  • Mentoring and positive role models
  • Project work to solve a real-world problem

Who this program is for

  • Emerging science leaders - students who have drive and leadership potential to step up and take the lead in Science.
  • Existing student leaders - students who are already in leadership positions and want to improve their Science skills and impact.
  • Wildlife conservation champions - students who are passionate about wildlife and want to develop Science leadership skills for conservation projects.

Teacher involvement

Students need to be endorsed by a teacher at their school. This teacher plays a crucial role in supporting their student's development by regularly checking in, facilitating their student's attendance at the program, assisting with project work, and providing opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills.

Each teacher will be gifted a Teacher Membership, which allows them free access to:

Supporting teachers will need to be available to attend and participate in two days of the program. 

Wednesday 1 May 2024 (school term) afternoon

Melbourne Zoo

Thursday 20 June 2024 (school term) lunch - Graduation

Melbourne Zoo

Cost and inclusions

The cost of the program is $1800 and includes:

  • All workshops
  • All food
  • Leadership mentoring
  • Behind the scenes encounters
  • Access to industry experts
  • Excursions including transport from Melbourne Zoo
  • Accommodation for 4 overnight stays at Polana Camp
  • Program materials
  • Zoo membership, allowing unlimited visitation to all four Zoos Victoria zoos for one year: Healesville Sanctuary, Kyabram Fauna Park, Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo

Ten scholarship positions will be provided for students from low SES schools. Applications for these positions will be assessed on if the school Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) rating is 1000 or lower, teacher nomination, and the quality of the overall student application.

If needed, check your school ICSEA rating here.

Refer to the Terms and Conditions for the cancellation policy.

Program sequence

This program is hosted at Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary. All excursions to Healesville Sanctuary and surrounds will leave from Melbourne Zoo and include overnight stays.

Here are the 2024 dates for your calendar*:

Thursday 2 May 2024 (school term)

Melbourne Zoo

Friday 3 May 2024 (school term)

Melbourne Zoo

Monday 6 May 2024 (school term)

Healesville Sanctuary

(including overnight stay in Healesville)

Tuesday 7 May 2024 (school term)

Haining Farm, Buxton/Marysville spotlighting (including overnight stay in Healesville)

Wednesday 8 May 2024 (school term)

Healesville Sanctuary

Wednesday 5 June 2024 (school term)

Healesville Sanctuary

(including overnight stay in Healesville)

Thursday 6 June 2024 (school term)

Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve

(including overnight stay in Healesville)

Friday 7 June 2024 (school term)

Healesville Sanctuary​

Tuesday 11 June 2024 (school term)

Melbourne Zoo

Wednesday 12 June 2024 (school term)

Melbourne Zoo

Thursday 20 June 2024 (school term) - Graduation

Melbourne Zoo

*There are no makeup sessions, refunds or discounts offered in the case of student absence.​

Refer to the Terms and Conditions for the cancellation policy.

Learning outcomes

Victorian Curriculum Year 9-10


Science Understanding
  • Advances in scientific understanding often rely on developments in technology and technological advances are often linked to scientific discoveries (VCSSU115)
  • Multicellular organisms rely on coordinated and interdependent internal systems to respond to changes to their environment (VCSSU117)
  • Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (VCSSU121)
Science Inquiry Skills
  • Formulate questions or hypotheses that can be investigated scientifically, including identification of independent, dependent and controlled variables (VCSIS134)
  • Independently plan, select and use appropriate investigation types, including fieldwork and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data, assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these investigation types (VCSIS135)
  • Select and use appropriate equipment and technologies to systematically collect and record accurate and reliable data, and use repeat trials to improve accuracy, precision and reliability (VCSIS136)
  • Construct and use a range of representations, including graphs, keys, models and formulas, to record and summarise data from students’ own investigations and secondary sources, to represent qualitative and quantitative patterns or relationships, and distinguish between discrete and continuous data (VCSIS137)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (VCSIS140)
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Ethical
  • Intercultural
  • Personal and Social

Frequently asked questions 

Still have some questions? The Youth Leadership FAQs document is where you will find additional information. 

Please read through this document with your parent/guardian and teacher.