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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

In 2018, the internship will run from May 14 to July 20.  Applications are now open for 2018!  Apply by Thursday, March 1, 2018.  

If you have any questions, please contact

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: Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend is one of the last remaining wild places open to the public in the greater Houston area. The park is approximately 5,000 acres of prairie, wetland and bottomland forest located in SE Fort Bend County along the west bank of the Brazos River.  Due to its various ecosystems, the park is famous for its species diversity. Thousands of species, ranging from grasses and wildflowers to trees and aquatic plant life, grow in the park. Animal life is just as diverse.  The white-tailed deer is the largest of more than 25 different species of mammals. Other mammals here include feral pigs, raccoons, squirrels,river otters, bobcats, foxes and more.   About 21 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the American alligator, live in the park.  Mild days in the spring and fall or any mild winter day are the best time to view reptiles or amphibians.

2017 interns learning about state park job opportunities from Brazos Bend Park Superintendent Chris Bishop.

An American alligator at Brazos Bend State Park.

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

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:  Ashlee Kopchak

Ashlee Kopchak was a CCP intern during the summer of 2015.  Take a look at her experience in the program and what she is up to now.

What were some of the projects you enjoyed participating in during your CCP summer?
To be honest there was not really a project I disliked. I really enjoyed learning about all of the conservation project throughout the zoo and the fact that we got to create and execute our own conservation project. 

What behavior change, if any, have you noticed in yourself since participating in CCP?
I definitely feel I can conduct myself more professionally as well as feel more comfortable while speaking in front of people; whereas before even if I was comfortable speaking I still spoke quickly and I was hard to understand. 

How did your time with CCP shape your future/career opportunities?
My time with CCP really changed where I wanted to work in my career as well as my everyday life. I really want to work in conservation some way or somehow. I pursue that dream everyday. 

Finally, describe the Collegiate Conservation Program internship in 100 words or less.
To me, CCP is a program sponsored by Exxon Mobil where the intern work directly with conservation practices not only within the Houston Zoo but also with local and surrounding conservation facilities. It is the responsibilities of the interns to promote education and conservation to the public as well as practice conservation themselves while supporting native species. 

Are you a CCP alumni that would like to share your experience? Contact us at