Symposium Designed by L.A. Teens Amplifies Youth Voices for Social & Environmental Justice

Teen Conservation Council group photo

LOS ANGELES, CA – July 2, 2024 – The Los Angeles Zoo’s second Teen Council for Conservation cohort capped off their year with the first Youth Conservation Symposium with the theme–Raising Our Voices: Amplifying Teen Voices for a Just & Sustainable Los Angeles. The program was designed by the participating teens and provided local youths with a venue to collaborate in real time on important biodiversity and environmental topics. 

“I am deeply impressed with the courage, leadership, and tenacity these young leaders have displayed over these last nine months. They worked collaboratively to grow their skills and empower each other and their communities in conservation and environmental justice,” said Denise Verret, CEO & Zoo Director, Los Angeles Zoo. “The connections made within the Teen Council and today’s symposium are an inspiring first step for L.A. youth to help create a more inclusive environment where young people can be heard and make a positive impact. This program is an extension of the L.A. Zoo’s vision to create a just and sustainable world where people and wildlife thrive, together.” 

The Youth Conservation Symposium featured opening remarks from Verret and Jacqueline Hamilton, L.A. Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood Services. Keynote speakers included Jill Sohm Ph.D., USC Director of Environmental Sciences, and Kevin Patel, Youth Climate Activist. Following the keynote was an intergenerational panel featuring experts including Misha Body, L.A. Zoo Deputy Director of Animal Programs; Maya Penn, Youth Climate Activist; Julio Soria, Nature for All; Aizita Magana, Los Angeles Department of Public Health; and Sim Bilal, Youth Climate Strike LA. Throughout the Symposium, teens from all over Los Angeles were able to engage in meaningful discussions on climate resiliency, sustainability, and environmental justice. 

“A focal point of the Zoo’s Conservation Strategic Plan is Social & Environmental Justice,” said Jake Owens, Ph.D., Director of Conservation, L.A. Zoo. “Local communities are integral and vital to the success of long-term conservation actions, and the Zoo’s Teen Council for Conservation was designed with and for teens in Los Angeles to support them as they grow into the leaders of tomorrow. The L.A. Zoo is committed to empowering local teens to come together and build a stronger foundation for positive climate and environmental action.” 

The Zoo’s Teen Council for Conservation is an annual nine-month program that engages young people toward a future centered on conservation solutions in Los Angeles. This program empowers young Angelenos from all communities and highlights their strengths as leaders, builds skills in conservation and community building, and inspires these teens to enact change in themselves, at the Zoo, and in their communities. The Teen Council for Conservation focuses on issues surrounding conservation, social and environmental justice, and climate, and the specific focus is determined by the members each year. 

Applications and recruitment for the 2024-2025 Teen Council for Conservation cohort will begin later this summer. Interested teens should follow the L.A. Zoo’s social media (@lazoo) and website at www.lazoo.org/teencouncil for more information and eligibility requirements. 

About the Los Angeles Zoo 

The Los Angeles Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is dedicated to providing exemplary animal care and wellbeing. As a trusted leader in local and global conservation efforts, the Los Angeles Zoo is saving wildlife and connecting Angelenos to the natural world by delivering diverse learning opportunities and creating unforgettable experiences. The lush 133-acre campus and its passionate and dedicated team welcomes all to be inspired by the Zoo’s vision to create a just and sustainable world where people and wildlife thrive, together. The Zoo is located on Zoo Drive in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways.