Junior Zoo Crew Summer Service Learning Program Summative Evaluation Summary Report
In 2009, Insight Evaluation Services conducted a summative evaluation of Junior Zoo Crew (JZC), a summer service program at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore (MZB) for teens ages 14 through 17. The goal of the evaluation was to assess the long-term impact of the JZC Program on its past participants in four main areas: 1. How and why participants are attracted to the Program and what support they get from their parents. 2. The extent to which the Program meets participants' expectations, as well as offers a satisfactory volunteer experience that also increases their appreciation for the value of community service. 3. The influence of the Program on participants' academic/career plans and personal goals, including the ability of the Program to encourage their appreciation for the environment, wildlife conservation, animal care/management, and teachers/teaching. 4. The impact of the Program in developing participants' self-confidence, as well as their skills in leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and making/maintaining friendships. Data were collected using a web-based survey (sent out to all past participants for whom an email address was available) and follow-up telephone interviews (with a sub-set of web survey respondents who indicated they were willing to be called). The evidence offered strong evidence that in the short term, JZC alumni come away from their experience with an enhanced understanding of animal care and management, as well as a greater appreciation for the environment and wildlife conservation. In addition, alumni feel that by having to interact with the public, JZC staff and fellow volunteers, they gain new communication and leadership skills, which in turn increase their feelings of self-confidence. Alumni also come away from the Program with very positive memories of a thoroughly enjoyable experience; their overall satisfaction with the Program is such that the majority of alumni return to the MZB to volunteer again. Over the long term, many alumni go on to major in a subject within the natural sciences and/or work with or around animals in some capacity. These alumni find that what they learned about animals during their summer service continues to be useful in their current academic and professional lives; almost all alumni agree that the life skills they gained continue to serve them, as well.