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Teen Programs Coordinator @ Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo inspires communities to create environments where wildlife will thrive in our urbanizing world. The zoo is a leader in local and global conservation, animal care and welfare, learning, and science. A historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, the not-for-profit Lincoln Park Zoo, is a privately-managed, member-supported organization and is free and open 365 days a year. Visit us at


Lincoln Park Zoo has a rich history of teen programs. Since 1994, programs have offered teens real-world experience with communication, collaboration, and conservation. We believe that teens thrive when our programs provide: authentic work experience, agency and choice when completing projects, equitable compensation for teens’ time and talents, training in 21st century skills, and adult mentors who coach with transparency and authenticity.

The Teen Programs Coordinator leads the development and delivery of teen programs for the Learning Exploration team. Oversees components that are shared across all teen programs, including recruitment, hiring, family engagement, and evaluation. Consults with staff across the Learning Department to share best practices for teen engagement and ensure smooth implementation of existing curriculum. Anticipates logistical needs for programs including establishing schedules, ordering supplies, and formalizing procedures. Supervises Teen Programs Facilitator, supporting facilitation best practices and professional development for staff. Maintains relationships with program alumni to encourage continued career growth for all students. Key to this position is the capacity and passion to access and amplify youth voice, while integrating perspectives from stakeholders across multiple departments and institutions.

This position has some flexibility to work from home (up to 2 days per week if programs are not scheduled). When field trips or internships are running, working hours will be performed on-site at the zoo or offsite at school/community locations as needed.


  • As coordinator for summer teen internships (Peak Responsibility Time: weekdays, June-August):
    • Supervise 14-18 teen program participants and seasonal staff throughout a seven-week paid summer internship focused on interpretation about animal adaptations & conservation messages.
    • Lead program development process to ensure a cohesive curriculum aligned with Learning Framework.
    • Make connections & requests to other zoo departments for guest speakers to promote broader awareness of zoo careers.
    • Conduct interviews, lead participant selection, and establish training procedures with the support of the Learning Exploration team.
    • Oversee teen onboarding process including answering hiring questions from participants and parents, coordinating paperwork with HR, communicating about payroll timing, identifying priorities for training, etc.
    • Apply youth development principles to support teen participants as challenges arise.
    • Integrate evaluation tools into program curriculum (such as surveys, mind maps, and collecting program artifacts) as established by the evaluation plan which is co-developed with evaluation and learning research staff.
    • Address challenges in a timely and solution-oriented manner, including constuctive conversations with youth and communication with parents/caregivers as needed.
  • As coordinator for the Conservation Ambassadors Board (Peak Responsibility Time: Saturdays during September - May)
    • Mentor 16-18 teen program participants in a “youth council” style environment, guiding them to plan an event focused around Lincoln Park Zoo’s conservation initiatives.
    • Respect, elevate, and incorporate youths’ voices during decision making process.
    • Integrate technology thoughtfully to support program outcomes.
    • Conduct interviews, participant selection, and training.
    • Guide the Teen Programs Facilitator in writing professional development and team-building activities for participants.
    • Act as the liaison between the teen participants and zoo departments, communicating questions and decisions to relevant stakeholders to support teen planning.
  • As coordinator for the Canvas for Conservation program (Peak Responsibility Time: weekdays September-May)
    • Lead curriculum development in collaboration with the Teen Programs Facilitator. Activities include observing & sketching animals, conducting empathy-based scenarios focused on conservation threats, and education about natural history.
    • Connect with zoo Animal Care staff to understand the unique features and welfare of the focal species, and translate this content into lesson plans.
    • Lead a teacher workshop in the fall for high-school art teachers to find connections between conservation and creative mediums like painting, dance, creative writing, and more.
    • Communicate with lead teachers at up to 8 local schools throughout the school year, including scheduling field trips, ordering buses, planning to accommodate accessibility requests, and preparing materials.
    • Set up artwork and easels for gallery visits.
    • Provide thoughtful feedback for student artwork.
    • Lead an entrepreneurial workshop for winning artists to learn how to sell their work on custom merchandise.
    • Promote the program’s Threadless shop to sell student merchandise, benefitting both the zoo and student artists.
  • As coordinator for other existing and emerging programs: (Peak Responsibility Time: year-round)
    • Track program attendance and assist the Director in generating reports or summaries on area activities.
    • Under the guidance of the Learning Exploration Manager, support positive relationships with zoo staff, other cultural and community institutions, and conservation/wildlife agencies.
    • Work with Community Engagement staff to support positive relationships with schools and community partners in relation to teen programming.
    • Support Learning Exploration Manager in ensuring that programs stay within allocated budget, including showing fiscal responsibility when ordering program supplies.
    • Integrate feedback from audience to guide program development through both evaluation and informal conversations.
    • Attend information sessions around the city to promote Lincoln Park Zoo opportunities.
    • Lead the planning and promotion of bi-annual teen programs alumni reunion.
    • Lead zoo tours for pediatric patients using a telepresence robot to navigate zoo exhibits.
    • Comfortable with delivering online programs (via Zoom) as-needed
    • Support development and delivery of additional related programming as resources allow.
    • Work a flexible schedule that may involve delivering multiple, hour-long programs in a row with limited breaks.
    • Perform various tasks and other duties as assigned.
  • As supervisor for the Teen Programs Facilitator and seasonal program facilitators: (Peak Responsibility Time: year-round)
    • Conduct weekly check-in meetings to discuss schedules, logistics, and action items related to program delivery.
    • Serve as a collaborator and joint problem-solver when challenges arise with program participants or activities.
    • Review lesson plans and make suggestions to ensure alignment with the zoo’s mission, values, and Learning Framework.
    • Conduct routine facilitator observations to give timely feedback on facilitation techniques.
    • Seek out professional growth opportunities to share with staff, including attending local networking meetings and relevant webinars.
    • Prepare annual & mid-year performance appraisals to give feedback on how performance aligns with zoo values.
    • Plan ahead to support success with delivering multiple concurrent programs, anticipating and avoiding capacity bottlenecks.


  • Ability to work with groups of up to 40 youth in a variety of settings, including zoo grounds, outdoors, and in a classroom environment
  • Commitment to creating a classroom environment that is accessible and inclusive to all, including differentiating instruction to meet student needs
  • Awareness that diversity is a strength and ability to craft curriculum to allow students to bring their “whole selves” to the program
  • Ability to work in a team and problem solve to ensure timely completion of all projects
  • Ability to interact courteously and respectfully with supervisors, fellow employees, volunteers, zoo visitors and general public
  • Interest in wildlife conservation and education
  • Ability to successfully manage and supervise teen interns and/or entry level professionals


  • Cumulative 3 years working in educational or environmental programming.
  • Curriculum or program development experience.
  • Experience working with and supervising teens.
  • Experience working with culturally, linguistically, and developmentally diverse learners required.
  • Bachelor’s degree in education, biology, zoology, nonprofit management or similar field preferred.*

*Note: A comparable combination of education, experience or training that would provide the level of knowledge, skills and ability required may qualify an individual.


Must be able to traverse zoo grounds for long periods of time and work outside in a variety of weather conditions.

Must be able to perform physical tasks associated with gardening (kneeling, digging, lifting, etc.)

Must be able to move equipment on a rolling cart up to 100 pounds.


Assist with other Learning programs during times of high staffing need.

Deliver zoo programs at annual events like Spooky Zoo, ZooLights, Spring Eggstravaganza, etc. Staffing will be based upon availability.

Work holidays, weekends and/or evenings as needed to deliver programming

Proof of COVID-19 vaccine


Past experience participating in a zoo-based teen program as a high school student

Training about or lived experience with advocating for diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion

Ability to navigate Chicago neighborhoods via public transportation or driving while working in the community

Bilingual in English and Spanish is an asset for this position

Familiarity with Chicago Public Schools system

Experience working with ecology or data analysis projects

Experience supervising full-time staff

Salary: $46,000 annually

Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to an environment that is inclusive and welcoming. We celebrate the diverse qualities, perspectives, values and experiences of all people. For Wildlife. For All.