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Junior Maggie Cox Volunteers in Zoo ALIVE Volunteer Program at the St. Louis Zoo


Credit to Savannah Wandzel

Junior Maggie Cox brushes a goat in the Children’s Zoo. Cox typically works in the Living World Building at the St. Louis Zoo.

By Sarah Zimmerman

Whether rain or shine, junior Maggie Cox volunteers at the St. Louis Zoo in the Zoo ALIVE (Active Leaders in Volunteer Education) program year round to teach kids about conservation and animals, while she learns life lessons and leadership.

“It helps volunteers because they have to learn how to schedule their life,” Eve Cooney, Manager of Youth Programs at the St. Louis Zoo, said. “I’ve heard from the volunteers that it’s a really great experience from that perspective, with learning to schedule transportation and meet deadlines. Another one of the biggest impacts is they meet people with similar interests and make lifelong friends. It’s really just a special experience and the volunteers get to learn about actions to help the earth and they can see how they can make a difference.”

At least twice a month, Maggie must attend meetings to learn about activities she will conduct for younger children and students. On top of that, every year, she must volunteer for two consecutive weeks at the summer camp program Camp KangaZoo, which according to Maggie, is a large time commitment. At the camp, Maggie is a camp counselor who conducts conservation-based games and crafts and teaches the kids about different animals and how they can help them. This opportunity to teach youth gives her more responsibility and leadership opportunities.

“She’s grown as a leader by showing example, not just to the children, but to the other volunteers… that you do the best job that you can do,” mother Jane Cox said. “I think it’s been a really good thing for her. It’s kept her busy and it’s given her work experience. I think it’s been a good experience.”

Regardless of the time commitment, Maggie finds volunteering rewarding to both help teach the younger students and be a leader to providing a role model for the younger kids she guides. By singing animal songs and helping kids in the Discovery Room, she is able to encourage the younger kids that science and education is important.

“The biggest impact that it’s had on me overall is that it’s helped me realize how I can help other people and how that can affect them and how all my actions have impact on others,” Maggie said. “If I’m trying to help other people, then that might bring them to help other people too.”