A group of ZOOTeens volunteers pose after a rainy Clean Your Streams Day.Almost every year, Toledo ZOOTeens rank among the winners of Clean Your Streams Youth Challenge Awards, but their partnership extends beyond September. ZOOTeens are frequent volunteers on Get the Lead Out clean-ups and spend winter cleaning Reel in and Recycle fishing line.

The Toledo Zoo’s ZOOTeen program offers volunteer opportunities to students ages 13-17 who are interested in education, animal science, and conservation. In addition to helping out at the Zoo both with public-facing education stations and behind-the-scenes animal enrichment, ZOOTeens participate in off-grounds community service and conservation projects.

The ZOOTeens have been involved with Clean Your Streams Day since the 4th Annual CYS in 2001. That means they’ve been doing CYS longer than Partners for Clean Streams has officially existed! (PCS was founded in 2006.) Over the past 20 years, the ZOOTeens have participated in Youth Patch Day, as “Green Team” recycling crew members at the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon, and at Get the Lead Out and Clean Your Streams 365 clean-ups. One critical role ZOOTeens play is to clean dirty fishing line collected in Reel in and Recycle bins and at Get the Lead Out clean-ups. Their hard work allows us to send this fishing line to be recycled.

Bill Davis, Volunteer Manager at the Toledo Zoo and lead coordinator of the ZOOTeen program, was the 2018 recipient of the Partners for Clean Streams Environmental Stewardship and Involvement Award. He had this to share:

“The Toledo ZOOTeen Program is privileged to be able to engage in service opportunities outside of the Zoo. We are pleased to partner with multiple community organizations, supporting the environment, animal welfare, and basic human needs. These initiatives are important, not only because people, animals, and the environment are inextricably connected, but because these projects provide invaluable opportunities for the ZOOTeens to learn more about their communities and the world in which they live. The teens are able to become active citizens in their community.”

Bill told us that Clean Your Streams Day is the oldest recurring community partner program in which the ZOOTeens have been involved. We are so grateful for this longstanding relationship and look forward to what the future will bring!