Youth Engagement

Writing Contest

Raise awareness of conservation issues by writing a fictional story about real-life problems happening to plants and animals, such as habitat loss, poaching, pollution, climate change, the pet trade, and more! These stories do not have to be sad; they simply need to raise awareness of wildlife issues. They can be written from any point of view—including from the animal’s perspective. There are no page limits required.

Age Categories: Kindergarten-2nd grade; 3rd-5th grade; 6th-8th grade; 9th-12th grade; Adult

Prizes: Choice of a behind-the-scenes animal tour or a painting done by a zoo animal!

Free zoo entry: Anyone who submits a story will gain free entry into the zoo for our Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 20th. Every submitted story will be on display on Earth Day from 9:00-3:00 and winners will be announced at 2:00.

How to submit: Drop story by the zoo or email to  Deadline: April 5, 2020

Teen EcoTrip to Costa Rica

We are pleased to announce a unique travel opportunity for teens on July 30th - August 7th, 2019. The Topeka Zoo is offering the chance to participate in a 9-day experiential learning trip to Costa Rica.

Heading to the Osa Peninsula and the Cordillera De Talamanca in Costa Rica, this Teen Eco-Expedition will be a highly educational and interactive trip that will include activities such as hands-on research on dolphins, compiling and reporting research data, traveling to and studying other ecosystems such as the cloud forest and mangrove swamps, and observing whales, primates, sea turtles, sharks, crocodiles, endangered birds, and more, as well as presentations on regional conservation and cultural issues.

This trip is restricted to high school students who are currently in high school, entering high school in 2019, or just graduated from high school. Trip fees include round trip airfare, hotel accommodations, all meals, ground transportation and guide expenses, and more.

All trip arrangements are made through Holbrook Travel. As well as a full-time regional guide with the group at all times, two Topeka Zoo Education and Conservation Department staff will accompany the group.

There will be an informational meeting at the zoo for interested parties on Wednesday, March 20th, at 6:00 PM, in the zoo's Living Classroom. For questions or additional information, contact Rachael Rost,, or 785-368-9137.


EcoClub provides an opportunity for children and teens who are interested in the environment to meet and share ideas and interests on how to positively impact the planet. We will meet live animals, talk conservation, and develop projects to help our community and our world!

We have two different clubs that are broken down by grade level. Middle School EcoClub (grades 5-8) meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. High School EcoClub (grades 9-12) meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month. Please click the orange boxes below for exact dates for each club.

General Information:

Time: 5:15-6:45 pm on the above dates

Location: Gary K. Clarke Education Center at the zoo, enter through the front zoo admission gate

Cost: $100/child for the entire school year (cost includes a t-shirt)

Age: Middle School EcoClub: Grades 5-8; High School EcoClub: Grades 9-12

For questions, contact the education department:

Phone: 785-368-9137

Please R.S.V.P. before attending. You may join at any time during the year.



Topeka Zoo Youth Council

As a Topeka Zoo Youth Council member, you are a role model to other youth who want to be leaders in their communities.

Topeka Zoo Youth Council:

  • Are ambassadors of service
  • Are required to attend regular meetings, as outlined in the Topeka Zoo Youth Advisory Council Agreement
  • Are encouraged to keep in touch with each other and to provide encouragement and support
  • Communicate with the Council Supervisor and other appropriate parties on a regular basis

We are now accepting applications for the 2018 Youth Council. Shawnee County residents in grade 8 (second semester) through grade 12 are eligible. Download an application here.