Malott Family Research Apprenticeship Program

July 5–August 19
Calendar Icon Mondays–Fridays
Clock Icon 10 a.m.–4 p.m.


The Malott Family Research Apprenticeship Program provides Chicago high school students with the opportunity to work alongside zoo researchers and engage in authentic scientific research. During the seven-week, paid program, apprentices work with researchers in one of the zoo’s science centers, learn more about this career path, and gain experience in conservation research activities. The program provides apprentices with support to fully integrate the experience into their academic goals, career plans, and areas of personal strength.

The application for the 2022 season has closed. Please check back in February 2023 for next year’s application.

More Information


To qualify, applicants must:

  • Be a City of Chicago resident.
  • Be entering grades 11–12 or their freshman year of college in fall 2022.
  • Be 16–18 years old by July 5, 2022.
  • Be legally allowed to work in the United States.
  • Have proof of identity and authorization to work in the U.S., in accordance with federal law.


Apprentices must be available for all days of training, which takes place during the first two weeks of the program. Planned absences that do not occur during training, and which have been discussed with a supervisor, are possible. However, long absences (such as a week-long family vacation) may disqualify a candidate from the program, as an apprentice would miss too many events and activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I work with animals?

No. Apprentices do not work directly with animals. However, projects will directly relate to animals and will involve activities such as observing animals in their natural and/or zoo habitats. Apprentices may also experience special opportunities, like behind-the-scenes tours and presentations from zoo professionals, to learn more about zoo career paths.

Will there be an interview?

In April, invited applicants will come to the zoo for a half-day group interview. You’ll get to see animals, meet zoo staff, network with fellow applicants, and tell us why you’re excited about this position.

Can I apply for multiple programs?

Yes! Applicants can apply to every program simultaneously. Please note: Eligibility requirements vary between programs.

How will I know if I’ve been accepted?

We will contact all applicants via email by Friday, April 8 whether or not they have been selected for an interview.

Do I need to know a lot about animals beforehand?

No! Training is provided at the beginning of the program to introduce apprentices to the zoo and zoo animals.

What do I need to participate?

Because the Research Apprenticeship Program will be in-person this summer, participants will need a reliable way to reach the zoo each day.

COVID-19 vaccinations are required for all zoo staff and volunteers, including teen interns. If you are selected for the program, proof of vaccination must be provided before May 15 in order to participate.