In the 12 months since Tim and Thom DeWitt made a gift to the Dallas Zoological Society to create an endowment for the Dallas Zoo’s College Internship Program, more than 100 students have benefited from their generous donation. The initial gift has helped defray operating costs for the program, and the hope is to grow the endowment so it allows the internship program to become self-sustaining. This funding will ensure that for years to come, students can take part in the immersive internship learning environment at the Dallas Zoo.
“We’re thrilled to see the impact our initial donation is having, supporting the next generation of conservationists and helping college students pursue their interests in related fields,” said Tim DeWitt. “What’s on the horizon, though, is most exciting. Once the endowment is fully funded, the possibilities are limitless in terms of how this intern program can grow and help foster a love of wildlife conservation in students.”
In September 2018, the DeWitts committed a gift to be funded over five years to support the ongoing needs of the Dallas Zoo’s internship program, with a portion of that gift dedicated to creating an endowment to sustain and grow the intern program.
“We are so thankful that the DeWitts saw such potential in our internship program and that they share our same passion for cultivating the conservation champions of tomorrow,” said Julie Bates, Dallas Zoo’s Director of Volunteer Services. “College-aged students represent a critical age for nurturing a spirit of service and empowerment, and our internship program is built to help students understand how they can have an impact in creating a better world for animals, and by extension, creating a better world for all of us.”
Having been raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Thom DeWitt was familiar with the Dallas Zoo and came here as a child. And as a former educator, he previously had worked with the Zoo on educational opportunities and curriculum to help connect kids with animals, nature, and conservation. It was their nephew, though, who inspired the DeWitts to support the Dallas Zoo after he participated in the internship program several summers ago.
“Our nephew was very interested in working at the Zoo, but he wasn’t sure in what capacity,” said Thom DeWitt. “The internship gave him exposure to different parts of the Zoo, and we got to hear him come home every day and talk about the experiences he had, and what he was able to see and learn. We immediately recognized this was a wonderful program and felt we needed to find a way to help expand the internship program to even more students.”
The DeWitts hope the endowment eventually allows the internship program to offer scholarships and helps the program conduct outreach to bring in a diverse socioeconomic mix of students to hone their skills at the Dallas Zoo.
More about the Dallas Zoo’s College Internship Program
Approximately 100 undergraduate or graduate students are selected annually (across fall, spring, and summer semesters) to be a part of the Dallas Zoo’s College Internship Program, following a competitive application and interview process. Interns become actively involved in the Zoo’s animal care departments, conservation and research efforts, operations support, and/or administrative positions, working up to 40 hours per week for 12 weeks. Each placement is designed to help the intern gain experience related to their education.
All Dallas Zoo interns are required to complete an educational project, participate in at least one service learning project, and attend professional development sessions designed especially for zoo interns.
To learn more about the program or to find out when the next application period is, please visit our website for all the details.