I’m a Tulsa Kid: Grace O’Connell, ZooTeens

ZooTeens is an elite group of Tulsa Zoo volunteers, ages 13-17, interested in animals and conservation. Young people who are selected devote many hours of their summer volunteering at the zoo. The young people learn about animals, help out where they can, and take on a leadership role to educate zoo visitors. Fourteen-year-old Grace O’Connell was selected through a process of interviews and training days.

TK: What first interested you about the Tulsa Zoo camps?

Grace: I’ve always loved animals and the zoo. I love it here. It’s an awesome experience.

TK: What was a typical day like at camp?

Grace: I would come and there were always activities. My favorite part was the animals and when we went behind the scenes.

TK: What is a ZooTeen?

Grace: A ZooTeen is someone who comes to the zoo in the summer and helps out. You go behind the scenes and meet a lot of people. It’s a great experience.

TK: What is your favorite thing about the ZooTeen program?

Grace: My favorite thing about the ZooTeen program is seeing teenagers coming to the program wanting to work here, spending their summer at the zoo with animals, not afraid to get dirty.

TK: What makes you so passionate about learning about animals?

Grace: I guess I love animals. I love studying them. I love how they behave compared to humans. I always admire animals because, to me, they can survive without anything like technology or clothes. They still get their own food, and I just love that about animals. Plus, it’s just so interesting to learn about something else besides humans.

TK: Is there anything else you like to do in your free time?

Grace: I like to read and chat with my friends. I love playing with my younger brother and my dog.

TK: What are your plans for the future?

Grace: I definitely want to be a writer when I’m older and write a book series and work from home so it’s on my own terms. I definitely want to study psychology at some point, probably college or high school.

TK: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about attending camp at the zoo?

Grace: Bring lots of water and be sure to listen up so you have a fun time because it’s a lot of fun. Plus, it’s great doing it again and again because then you get to meet more people and still see old, friendly faces.