My Experience Volunteering at the Cincinnati Zoo


Ayla Daoud, Contributor '26

For the past three years, I have spent my calendar year volunteering at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens in the ZooTeen program. Not only have I met amazing people through the ZooTeen program, I have been mentored by the Cincinnati Zoo’s staff, AmeriCorps members, and Thane Maynard, the zoo’s director. The most important lesson I have taken away from these leaders, especially Maynard, is the importance of how spreading awareness to others about topics such as global warming makes a difference in society.

As a young girl, I looked up to global warming advocate, Greta Thunberg, as she became famous for challenging famous leaders on their responses to climate change. As I read about her in The Times, I was immediately impacted, as I was shocked about how powerful her message was on global warming. Taking this message into my personal life, three years ago when I was first mentored by the zoo’s staff, they inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and not only tell visitors facts about the zoo’s animals, but also on what they could do at home to help reduce the overall impact of global warming. Ever since this day, every day I have volunteered at the zoo, I have made it a point to spread awareness to visitors about these topics. Not only do I believe I have inspired visitors, I am proud of myself because the zoo has taught me to make significant changes in my own life. We all need to do what we can, whether is reducing or recycling, and I believe that every action can make a difference.