Press Release: 11/05/2012

Oakland Zoo's Teen Wild Guides Program Receives Recognition from the Jane Goodall Institute

Nicky Mora, Senior Manager, Marketing/PR
(510) 632-9525 x130

Oakland, CA November 05, 2012

Oakland Zoo is excited to announce that Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots, the Jane Goodall Institute’s global environmental and humanitarian youth program, has honored the Zoo’s Teen Wild Guides (TWG) program as the "Group of the Month" for November 2012. Oakland Zoo’s Teen Wild Guides, made up of nearly 150 teenagers, are being recognized for their outstanding and creative projects focusing on wildlife conservation. The Teen Wild Guides program was chosen from more than 1,000 groups in the United States.

Founded in 1991 by Dr. Jane Goodall and a group of Tanzanian students, the Roots & Shoots program is about making positive change happen-for our communities, for animals and for the environment. With hundreds of thousands of young people in more than 120 countries, the Roots & Shoots network connects youth of all ages who share a desire to create a better world. Young people identify problems in their communities and take action. Through service projects, youth-led campaigns and an interactive website, Roots & Shoots members are making a difference across the globe.

"All of us at the Zoo recognize the future of a healthy planet depends on inspired, compassionate, and active young people," said Melinda Sievert, Teen Programs Manager. "This is where the missions of both Oakland Zoo and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program rise together. Through the years, I have seen teens work hard to educate the public about issues such as palm oil and the illegal pet trade, engage in local habitat restoration, and create innovative animal enrichment for our residents. I have truly seen them blossom into young leaders."

"The TWG program has been one of the best experiences of my life! The TWG program has given me friendships, public speaking skills and confidence," says Sahaj Patel, a 3rd year Teen Wild Guide. Oakland Zoo's involvement with Roots & Shoots began in 1998. The Teen Wild Guides program was established at the Zoo by Amy Gotliffe and Melinda Sievert in 2005. Throughout each year, teenagers involved with the Zoo's Teen Wild Guides program have the opportunity to earn their volunteer hours by participating in two or three teen-designed Roots & Shoots activities. Over the years, the group has raised money for conservation organizations around the world, created teen-led events at the Zoo such as the Asian Animal Festival and CaliforniaFest!, created pollinator habitats, participated in beach clean-ups, and assisted in sending thousands of pencils to students in Africa for environmental education.

Oakland Zoo welcomes young people 13 and up who are interested in volunteering in the Teen Wild Guides program. Teen Wild Guides participants will be trained as interpreters in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo, teaching visitors about animals and monitoring the contact yard. As teens develop within the program, they will have the opportunity to plan and participate in service-learning projects, assist keepers, and gain leadership experience. The teens' core schedule consists of working in the Zoo at a variety of stations designed to engage children about animals. Volunteer opportunities are available in winter, summer, and fall. For more information, please visit our Teen Volunteer page.


The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks.