WCS is committed to inspiring a diverse and inclusive movement of conservation advocates. The WCS Career Lattice is our integrated career pathways program that supports the 1,800 youth aged 14 to 24 years old who enroll in volunteer, internship, and employment opportunities at our five parks each year. The evaluation of the Career Lattice has been ongoing since 2018 and informs strategies for connecting, developing, and advancing WCS youth.

We work to recruit youth in local historically marginalized communities through outreach and partnerships. Almost all youth – about 90% – live in New York City and represent 80% of city ZIP codes, including all 59 designated as near or below the city’s poverty line. Youth represent diverse racial and ethnic groups, countries of origin, languages, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Thirty-two percent identify as LGBTQIA+. They speak a combined total of more than 30 languages and 32% are first-generation college students.

Youth have an overwhelmingly positive experience at WCS, feeling that they are welcomed, appreciated, and have opportunities to learn and develop new skills. Upon completion of their time with us, 84% reported that they planned to pursue a STEM career and 80% would like to work for WCS in the future. Youth enrolled in our volunteer and internship programs reported that their program experience made them more confident communicating about science with various audiences, including colleagues and zoo and aquarium visitors, and 90% indicated that their program changed the way they think about conservation and science.

The WCS Career Lattice Report provides in-depth information about our youth audience, engagement strategies, and impact.

2023 Career Lattice Report

We also study strategies to increase STEM and conservation engagement for youth. Our projects include:

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