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Do you love teaching, working with children, and animals? Are you interested in environmental education, writing curriculum, and teaching informal science education programs? Then an education naturalist internship is for you!

The Minnesota Zoo is the largest environmental education learning facility in the state. We offer a variety of educational experiences for children and adults of all ages, including summer camps for ages preschool through adult, overnights, guided tours for groups, and programs for school groups, families, teens, and adults.

In addition to gaining informal education experience, all of our education interns learn about the inner workings of the Minnesota Zoo, as they spend a day shadowing zoo keepers on the trail of their choice, visit behind-the-scenes areas, and meet and work with Zoo staff from all departments. All of our interns also receive a number of Zoo-specific benefits, such as free Zoo admission for themselves and their families for the duration of their internship and discounts at our gift shop and food vendors.

Naturalist interns work approximately 35-40 hours/week, typically Monday-Friday, during summer internships. (Schedule and time commitment may vary for internships taking place during the school year.) The start and end dates are flexible, depending on each intern’s school schedule.

This is an unpaid internship. You must be a registered college student receiving credit for this internship to be eligible. Please feel free to contact us with any questions (contact info below.)

Summer Internships

Education Intern

Our education programs take advantage of our indoor and outdoor trails as well as our 200+ acres of back woods and natural areas. Summer Education Interns work primarily with our summer camps, as well as assisting with other community and school education programs.

Responsibilities may include:

  • assisting with curriculum preparation and lesson planning
  • teaching and assisting teachers in the classroom
  • running classroom activities
  • creating guides and resources for visiting groups or schools
  • craft and activity prep
  • completing a summer-long project of your choice. (In the past, our interns have written curriculum for a new week-long camp, created a nature field guide for the Zoo’s outdoor areas, and many other projects.)

Interns gain valuable informal education, public speaking, and classroom management experience, as you move from shadowing teachers to teaching a week-long day camp on your own (under the guidance of a full-time staff teacher.) You’ll gain experience with all ages, focusing primarily on third to twelfth grade with the option to work with adult audiences as well.

Early Childhood & Nature Play Intern

We offer dozens of different programs for early childhood audiences at the Minnesota Zoo, including several programs focused on nature play in our Hanifl Family Wild Woods Nature Play Area and in our 200+ acres of back woods! Early Childhood and Nature Play interns work primarily with our programs for toddlers through second-graders, including summer day camps and family programs.

Responsibilities may include:

  • assisting with program development and lesson planning
  • teaching and leading programs, including guiding unstructured nature play
  • assisting teachers in the classroom
  • running classroom activities
  • craft and activity prep
  • completing a summer-long project of your choice. (In the past, our interns have written curriculum for a new camp, created a nature field guide for the Zoo’s outdoor areas, and many other projects.)

Interns gain valuable early childhood education and classroom management experience, as you move from shadowing teachers to teaching a camp on your own (under the guidance of a full-time staff teacher.)

Fall, Winter, or Spring Internships: Education and early childhood internships are sometimes available during the school year. Responsibilities might include assisting with curriculum preparation and program development, teaching, and leading classroom activities for a variety of the Zoo’s popular education programs such as “school’s out” camps, school programs, overnights, family programs, early childhood programs, and scout programs. Schedules and hours are typically very flexible. If you’re interested in an education internship program between the months of September and April, please contact Tyler Ahnemann at tyler.ahnemann@state.mn.us.

Education Intern Qualifications:

Applicants must…

  • Be a registered college student completing this internship for credit
  • Be interested in formal or informal education
  • Be interested in wildlife, conservation, or environmental studies
  • Have at least one summer or semester of experience working with kids
  • Have the ability to comfortably speak and present to a group of 10+ people
  • Pass a formal background check upon selection

Background knowledge in zoology, biology, environmental studies, environmental education, early childhood education, or related studies is preferred.

How to Apply:

If you’re interested in either an Education or Early Childhood specific internship, or both, you need only submit one application. As noted on the main Minnesota Zoo Internship Application page, your application should include the completed Application Form (one page), a cover letter, a resume, a single letter of recommendation from an advisor or supervisor (past or present), and an official or unofficial copy of your transcript. All materials will be emailed to Human Resources, as explained on the Application Procedures page.

Please be sure that your cover letter answers the following questions:

  • What are your career goals, and how would this internship help you achieve them?
  • What skills, coursework/knowledge, and/or experience will you bring to the Education department and this internship?

For more information, please contact:

Internship Coordinator, Human Resources, Human.resources.mnzoo@state.mn.us

-or-

Connections Coordinator, Education Department, liz.e.dengate@state.mn.us