Teen Conservation Leader (TCL)

High School

Teen Conservation Leaders (TCLs) provide an important volunteer service to the Aquarium, our guests and our communities. During a fun and intensive two-week training at the beginning of summer, TCLs learn basic marine biology and ocean conservation. Upon completion, TCLs provide exhibit interpretation for our guests or support our summer camp programs. As TCLs, students develop important job and life skills, build self-confidence and earn community service hours. Regular conservation experiences connect students with opportunities to better understand science and conservation in the local community.

TCL offers two "tracks" to applicants—Guest Track and Camp Track:

Guest Track

Students in this track hone their interpretation skills and provide enriching guest experiences. Guest Track TCLs will become intimately familiar with Aquarium stories and animals while sharing their passion for conservation with Aquarium guests. Applicants should have an interest in actively communicating with visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

Time commitment:
  • Two-week training: Monday–Friday, June 8–12, and Monday–Thursday, June 15–18, 2015, between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. (start and end times will vary during training; no day will be longer than eight hours).
  • Shifts: Two consecutive eight-hour days each week (8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) June 21–August 8, 2015. Students select one of the following day pairings: Sunday/Monday, Wednesday/Thursday or Friday/Saturday. (No Guest Track on Tuesdays.)
  • Conservation events: June 30, July 7, July 21, July 28 and August 15, 2015.

Camp Track

Students in this track will mentor middle school participants in the Aquarium's Young Women in Science (YWS) camps. TCL volunteers will learn how to lead games and manage groups while assisting in activities such as kayaking, boogie boarding, sand crab monitoring, otter investigations and Aquarium tours. YWS is conducted bilingually in English and Spanish. Applicants must be female and should have an interest in mentoring younger students and building a multicultural community. Bilingual skills are not necessary but are highly desirable.

Time commitment:
  • Two-week training: Monday–Friday, June 8–12, and Monday–Thursday, June 15–18, 2015, between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. (start and end times will vary during training; no day will be longer than eight hours).
  • Camps: Two weeks of eight-hour shifts each day, plus two prep days before each week (8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) July 10, July 13–17, July 24 and July 27–31, 2015.
  • Conservation events: June 30, July 7, July 21, July 28 and August 15, 2015.

Student volunteers applying should:

  • Indicate a track preference on their applications
  • Be currently enrolled in high school or entering high school next fall and be at least 14 years old
  • Demonstrate an eagerness to learn and to work with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Be proficient in English and comfortable with science vocabulary
  • Be willing and available to attend all important program dates listed below
  • Volunteer for eight-hour days (8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) as assigned (approximately 100 hours)

Important dates:

  • Information meeting: January 11, 2015; either 1:30 or 3:30 p.m (Discovery Labs at the Aquarium; call/text (831) 917-1493 for directions)
  • Application and Recommendation Form (PDF) due: January 31, 2015
  • Potential interviews: March 14 or March 15, 2015 (if selected, applicants will need to attend one interview session in person)
  • Summer orientation: May 2015 (dates, times and locations to be determined)
  • Required two-week training: Monday–Friday, June 8–12, and Monday–Thursday, June 15–18, 2015; 8:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. (start and end times will vary during training; no day will be longer than eight hours)
  • TCL-specific summer events: June 30, July 7, July 21, July 28 and August 15, 2015

Applications and forms:

Applications for summer 2015 will be available online January 13, 2015. We highly recommend that students attend an information meeting prior to submitting an application.

Download the Recommendation Form (PDF)

Additional opportunities are available to TCLs who have time to volunteer during the school year and subsequent summers. Students can assist in special events at the Aquarium, support a variety of education programs or interpret exhibits for guests. TCLs cultivate lasting relationships with their peers, adult volunteers and Aquarium staff. No matter which of these adventures students choose, they'll take home memories of a lifetime!

For more information about TCL, e-mail Teen Programs at teenprograms@mbayaq.org.

Teen Conservation Leaders

Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (WATCH)

High School

Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (WATCH) is a program offered at three high schools in Watsonville, California. This year-long program begins in the summer and extends throughout the school year. During the three-week summer component students explore the Pajaro River Watershed, meet with local scientists and participate in inquiry-based learning. They also learn about environmental issues in their community and participate in local restoration efforts.

During the school year, the same students that participated in the summer portion of the program develop their own projects based on an environmental topic. Students will work during the school day, after school and independently to complete their projects. They work with Aquarium staff and teachers, as well as scientists and educators from the community to complete their projects. Upon completion of the projects, students receive a scholarship and community service hours needed for graduation.

For more information about WATCH, e-mail Teen Programs at teenprograms@mbayaq.org.

Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats

Student Oceanography Club (SOC)

Middle School

The Student Oceanography Club (SOC) is a program for middle school students, ages 11 to 14, who are interested in learning about marine science and ocean conservation and who would like to make a difference in their local communities.

SOC aims to empower teens to make a difference while having fun! Over the course of the school year, students will visit scientific institutions and meet scientists, work with other teens and learn about ocean conservation while participating in hands-on activities. Participants must commit to attending monthly meetings at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, participating in all field experiences and completing and presenting a community conservation project with the support of both the teen and adult SOC communities.

Students can apply to join SOC as part of a team consisting of three to five students plus an adult project advisor. Team members can be from the same school or different schools as long as they work together on the same project. Project advisors can be teachers, community members or other adults who are poised to help with the project. Project advisors will guide their team members throughout the school year as they complete their projects in their local communities.

The application process for the 2014-15 school year is now closed.

For more information about SOC, e-mail Teen Programs at teenprograms@mbayaq.org.

Student Oceanography Club

Young Women in Science (YWS)

Middle School

This week-long, summer day-camp is designed to get young women excited about and involved in science, the ocean and conservation. Through a variety of hands-on field activities, we strive to increase their knowledge and to spark a personal connection with the natural world that will lead them to become future stewards of the ocean. Girls get the opportunity to explore ocean habitats by joining in activities such as surface scuba diving, boogie boarding and kayaking.

We aim to serve young women regardless of primary language or economic background. We offer two camps in the summer that are conducted bilingually in both English and Spanish. Young women entering grades 7 or 8, who reside in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, are eligible to apply.

The application process for summer 2014 is now closed. Applications for summer 2015 will be available online March 2015.

For more information about YWS, e-mail Teen Programs at teenprograms@mbayaq.org.

Young Women in Science