WCS is committed to inspiring a diverse and inclusive movement of conservation advocates, including the 1,400 youth aged 14 to 24 years old who enroll in programs, internships, employment, and volunteer opportunities across our five parks each year. In 2018, we launched an effort to understand our reach, characterize our youth audience, and measure program outcomes using two surveys: a demographic census and a program exit survey.
We work to connect and 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. They represent diverse racial and ethnic groups, countries of origin, languages, and socioeconomic backgrounds. They speak a combined total of nearly 50 languages and 24% identified as LGBTQIA+.
Youth have an overwhelmingly positive experience WCS, feeling that they are welcomed, appreciated, and have opportunities to learn and develop new skills. Upon completion of their time at WCS, 84% of youth 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 the program changed the way they think about conservation and science.
Our WCS Career Lattice Report provides in-depth information about our youth audience, engagement strategies, and impact.