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Collegiate Conservation Program

What is the Collegiate Conservation Program (CCP)?

The Houston Zoo Collegiate Conservation Program is a 10-week internship sponsored by ExxonMobil.  The Houston Zoo is committed to cultivating the next generation of conservation heroes.  Each summer 10 interns are selected to train, learn, and work at the Houston Zoo and regional conservation partners.  For more information, take a look at the internship description below.

2018 CCP Internship Description

Applications for the 2018 summer are closed.  Check back later this year for the 2019 application!

Take a look at some of the impacts from the 2017 CCP summer!
2017 CCP Intern Impact Statements

Still unsure what this program is all about?  Head to our blog to hear about one of our 2017 interns experiences!

If you have any questions, please contact ccp@houstonzoo.org.


Regional Conservation Partners

Each year CCP partners with over 20 regional conservation organizations to create a well rounded internship.  These organizations are located all over the city and provide interns with a variety of conservation experience through hands on projects and discussions with staff.


Conservation Partner Spotlight: Houston Wilderness

HOUSTON WILDERNESS was founded in 2003, and its mission is to work with a broad-based alliance of business, environmental and government interests working together to protect, preserve and promote the biodiversity of the region’s precious remaining ecological capital from bottom-land hardwoods and prairie grasslands to pine forests and wetlands.  This mission is accomplished through convening various groups to promote protect and preserve the biodiversity in our 10 eco-regions; providing collaborative problem-solving opportunities on critical environmental issues; and educating the public on the many exciting outdoor opportunities in the Greater Houston Region and the health benefits associated with nature. These eco-regions decrease repetitive flooding, improve air & water quality, prevent land erosion, boost outdoor recreation, ecotourism and economic growth.  Since its inception, Houston Wilderness has worked to be a catalyst for collaboration in regional conservation efforts, to provide access to people, places and information that strengthen environmental programming, and to facilitate strategies that increase and enhance understanding of the essential role that ecological systems play in the overall economic health of the Greater Houston Region.

2017 interns learning about Houston Wilderness their President & CEO.

2017 interns learning about the Houston Wilderness esplanade project.

Each month we will be spotlighting a different conservation partner that we have worked with in the past.  Interested in working with us next summer?  Contact us at ccp@houstonzoo.org.


What is a typical week like?

Each week of the internship focuses on steps an organization would take in creating a new conservation program.  Take a look at a sample of a week from the 2016 internship.

Feedback from CCP Alumni


“The CCP summer was genuinely a life changer for me. I learned so much about how zoos run on every level – from the directors to the graphic arts departments – about the rewards, challenges, and passion that go into working for a non-profit, about finding my place in a team of people in order to create a successful proposal, and I learned a lot about myself.” – Becca, 2013 Intern

“Being involved with CCP gave me a good base of experience in numerous job fields.  Because of the wide range of projects that we were involved in, such as conservation education, land management, and experience interacting with guests on zoo grounds, I feel that I have many possible avenues to pursue later in life that I already have experience in.” – Haley, 2015 Intern 

“CCP is a fantastic stepping stone for students interested in entering the field of conservation. It showed me all the possibilities the field has to offer and introduced me to a variety of new topics and conservation organizations that have ultimately shaped my interests and career path. Aside from being an excellent resume builder, it taught me how to work as part of team and be creative in my approach to environmental topics.” – Sam, 2013 Intern


Alumni Spotlight:  Kenneth Nalley

Kenneth Nalley was a CCP intern during the summer of 2017.  Take a look at his experience in the program and what he is up to now.

What were some of the projects you enjoyed participating in during your CCP summer?
I really enjoyed every single project we worked on during the internship. My favorites would have to be kayaking around Armand Bayou cleaning up trash, our educational bayou exhibit we developed, and our week long visit with the researcher Gabriel Massocato from the Giant Armadillo Project in Brazil!

What behavior change, if any, have you noticed in yourself since participating in CCP?
CCP has taught me that wildlife conservation is a community effort. My view used to be very linear and I had a hard time accepting other peoples points of view that I saw as harmful to the environment/wildlife. I have learned that in order to be heard we must also listen and then we can work together on the best solution for everyone.

How did your time with CCP shape your future/career opportunities?
CCP opened my eyes to the world of informal education. I’ve always been interested in working in education but I wasn’t sure if I could be in a classroom all day. The CCP internship introduced me to various people working in environmental/conservation education which helped guide me to my current job as an environmental education. 

What are you currently doing to save/protect wildlife?
I’m currently working as an environmental educator at Land Between the Lakes in Tennessee/Kentucky. As an E.E. working with children I hope to help them develop a connection with nature and its inhabitants so that when they are adults they will have an appreciation for nature and want to conserve it.  

Describe the Collegiate Conservation Program internship.
The CCP internship was a magical experience for me. It completely changed my view on zoos and opened my eyes to how much zoos do for wildlife conservation–especially the Houston Zoo. I was able to see how the Houston Zoo is helping to save animals in the wild all across the world with their international conservation partners. CCP also gave me the opportunity to work at and network with their regional partners including state parks, non-profits, nature centers, and more. Above everything else CCP gave me confidence, clarity, and courage to pursue a career in environmental/conservation education. 

Are you a CCP alumni that would like to share your experience? Contact us at ccp@houstonzoo.org.