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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

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: Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is one of 14 federally designated underwater areas protected by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.  Situated 70 to 115 miles off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary includes underwater communities that rise from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico atop underwater mountains called salt domes.  The sanctuary actually protects three separate areas: East Flower Garden Bank, West Flower Garden Bank, and Stetson Bank. The reef caps at East and West Flower Garden Banks are about 13 miles apart, while Stetson Bank lies about 30 miles to the northwest of West Flower Garden Bank. The miles of open ocean between banks range in depth from 200 to 500 feet (61-152 meters). Each bank has its own set of boundaries.

The interns of the Collegiate Conservation Program have not had the chance to visit the reef but they have spent time with their staff who work out of Galveston.

2013 interns enjoying a lecture at the Flower Garden Banks Galveston office.

2017 interns dissecting Lionfish caught at the Flower Garden Banks.

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:  Teresa Johnson

Teresa Johnson was a CCP intern during the summer of 2013.  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?
I loved visiting Big Thicket and the projects we participated in there at the school and Marysee Prairie. I enjoyed visiting the NOAA office and the Attwater’s Preserve. I also enjoyed the day spent at Armand Bayou and the day with the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. Virtually every week offered something different and interesting.

What are you currently doing to save/protect wildlife?
My research project in Costa Rica focuses on investigating community-based conservation initiatives and the level of participation in natural resource governance among different members of society (Costa Rican nationals, foreigners, and Indigenous peoples). This research will be used in connection to research projects carried out by two of my classmates to examine how human activity is impacting forest health/diversity and primate populations.

How did your time with CCP shape your future/career opportunities?
My connections made with CCP led me to getting into graduate school, which has afforded me a paid internship at a wilderness preserve and two chances to go abroad and study conservation techniques/do ecological research. Currently, I am starting a 10 week research project funded by the National Science Foundation which will open the door for me to get published for the first time.

Finally, describe the Collegiate Conservation Program internship in 100 words or less.
The CCP internship is a unique and exciting internship with a lot of variation day to day, which will further develop your understanding of the conservation community in Texas and the numerous types of organizations/projects you can get involved with in your career. Through it, you receive support and encouragement to pursue your interests, and you learn things you may not learn in your college classes.

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