The Toronto Zoo and the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy received a $380,000.00 grant through the Government of Canada’s Climate Action and Awareness Fund (CAAF) to support the Zoo’s new Climate Action Learning and Leadership Project – The CALL. The CALL was created to support and engage youth from underrepresented communities to take action to combat climate change. In addition, this initiative provides new Canadian youth with the knowledge and skills to create their own climate change call to action in their neighborhoods and wider networks and raise awareness of the opportunities to find their way in the career fields of climate change and conservation science.
The CALL aims to support and encourage youth to find their calling in the career fields of climate change and conservation science. The program includes working with community partners to identify individuals from these communities to participate in the Project and help Zoo staff to understand the needs of these communities to ensure meaningful experiences. Additional program partners work with participants to create digital tools/platforms for participants to share their knowledge and engage their community, through youth teaching youth, social media, and other methods. The CALL offers 12-week 'Climate Action' paid internships for eight participants aged 18+, and a leading the 'Engaging Climate Action Champions Leadership' program for 40 individuals aged 15 to 17.
The CALL is also supported by three, one-year Zoo staff positions, who are responsible for establishing and cultivating partnerships, mentoring and supporting participants, and building and managing a strong and sustainable program.
The CALL engages youth in two broad programs:
- Building Leadership through Climate Action Internships
- Engaging Climate Action Champions Leadership Program
In addition, participants work with Toronto Zoo staff on action-oriented projects, both at the Zoo site and in their home community. Action oriented projects include connecting with Zoo guests at the polar bear exhibit, conducting virtual field trips for external youth groups, producing content for social media, and - back in their home community - collaborating with community partners. As with the internship program, these experiences flow into additional opportunities for these youth such as integrating them into our volunteer program and providing them with hands-on experiences when applying for positions at the Zoo or likeminded organizations that are committed to protecting biodiversity.