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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 at regional conservation partners.  For more information, take a look at the internship description below.

2017 CCP Internship Description

Applications are currently closed for 2017.  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: Welder Wildlife Foundation

The Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation was established in 1954 by the will of Robert Hughes Welder, which provided for the foundation and operation of a wildlife refuge in San Patricio County. It occupies a fraction of a vast Spanish land grant that had been in the Welder family since 1832. Welder specified that the refuge offer conditions in which wildlife could live, forage, and propagate and that it provide opportunities for research and education in wildlife conservation and related fields. The foundation grants three to ten fellowships and other aids to graduate students and researchers annually. Teacher-training programs are offered in the summer, and the refuge has facilities to aid in Ph.D. and master’s degree studies. A large portion of the Foundation’s education goals is to reach children and young adults.  Every year the foundation reaches thousands of kinder-12th grade students through field days and outreach events.  University programs also use our facilities and educational activities for teaching purposes in subjects ranging from entomology, ornithology, wildlife biology, range management and environmental sciences.

2014 interns enjoying a tour of the Welder Wildlife Foundation diverse ecosystems.

Each month we will be spotlighting a different conservation partner that we have worked with in the past.  Interested in working with us this 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:  Tucker Davidson

Tucker Davidson was a CCP intern during the summer of 2013.  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?
As miserable as it was, I enjoyed the invasive species removal the most. It’s hard work, but at the end of the day, you made a real, tangible change to the environment for the better that you can smile at. I also enjoyed learning about the green spaces in urban areas that help to reduce harmful runoff, like at Hermann Park.

What are you currently doing to save/protect wildlife?
I just finished a job in northern Washington with Hawkwatch International and the US Forest Service. On that 20-year project, we record the number and species of migrating raptors to see fluctuations in populations. We then use that data to map certain sub-populations that are declining so conservation efforts can be focused on the places that need it most. Now I am interviewing for a graduate position with New Mexico State University, studying the effects of fire and mesquite removal on Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail populations.

How did your time with CCP shape your future/career opportunities?
The CCP helped start my career. It was my first job in the wildlife/environmental realm. After the program, I went on to work for the Forest Service in Arizona, the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies in Wyoming and Colorado, Hawkwatch International in northern Washington, and now I am applying for graduate positions to take the next step in making a real difference.

Finally, describe the Collegiate Conservation Program internship in 100 words or less.
The Collegiate Conservation Program is a hands-on look at how real conservation works in real time. The insight and knowledge you will accumulate during this program is some of the most valuable experience of your career and will stick with you forever.

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