Wildlife Champions (WC) are the conservation educators of the Zoo! They stand outside animal enclosures and teach guests about our animals. However, this is more than just spitting out facts. All WC’s receive training in basic empathy-building and interpretation communication techniques that help our guests better connect with and understand our animals. Rather than wait for guests to ask them questions, they start the conversations and invite passerby to learn more about not just animals, but also conservation.
This role is perfect for those who are outgoing and enjoy talking with many people of all different ages and backgrounds. Wildlife Champions do not give scheduled presentations. Instead, WC’s are constantly engaged in informal education chats with interested guests – who are free to come and go as they explore the Zoo. As a WC, you could find yourself talking with two adults or twenty kindergarteners! So, you should be comfortable with crowds and have the ability to change your vocabulary accordingly.
It is extremely important to us that all of our Wildlife Champions are well-informed and trained before going on grounds. All WC’s must complete three initial shifts as Gate Greeters as an introduction to HVZ and volunteering. They must also then complete a one hour training with our Education Specialist focusing on empathy development and interpretation techniques. All WC’s use animal information packets to guide them during volunteering, and packets are made available ahead of time for study. Volunteers also have access to San Diego Zoo’s Global Academy online – featuring dozens of free courses to help them become more informed WC’s.
- Start conversations with interested guests and answer questions about animals, conservation and zoos
- Learn about HVZ animals and conservation efforts (we provide this information for our volunteers)
- 14yrs+ to volunteer individually, 10-13yrs to volunteer with a parent/guardian
- Complete 10hrs of volunteering in a guest-facing role (Goat Yard, Gate Greeting, or Train/Carousel)
- Complete 1hr empathy/interpretation training with our Education Specialist (Zoom sessions held regularly throughout the year)
- Comfortable with public speaking, crowds, and starting conversations with strangers
- Enjoy teaching your community about animals, conservation and zoos
Online trainings: HVZ General Orientation, Empathy & Interpretation Basics