Austin, Texas, provides ample volunteer opportunities for teens. Teens can work directly with youth, animals and nature through local volunteer programs. Teens can feel good about supporting the community and will learn valuable job readiness skills in the process. The volunteer programs are designed to give back to the community and give teens a positive extracurricular experience.
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Volunteering with Children
Austin Children's Museum gives teens the opportunity to not only volunteer, but to gain job readiness skills. The program is for teens age 12 to 17. Volunteers interact with visitors, explain hands-on exhibits to children and their families, coordinate art or science activities, mentor young children who are visiting the museum and help with any educational programs. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas gives Austin teens the opportunity to mentor a child one-on-one. Teens are matched with a child and act as a line of support to him, encouraging the child to overcome issues and do his best. Mentors are there to show the child that someone cares and to be a solid foundation in the child's life.
Volunteering with Animals
The Austin Animal Center gives teens the opportunity to volunteer with animals in the shelter. Teens aged 13 to 14 must be accompanied by an adult, and teens 15 to 17 must have a parent present with them during orientation. Austin Humane Society allows teens ages 16 to 17 to volunteer with parental consent and young teens age 14 to 15 to volunteer with adult supervision. Volunteers for both programs help greet customers, train dogs, socialize cats, prepare surgery packs for the veterinarian, complete clerical tasks and administer cat nebulization, which is a breathing treatment for cats with upper respiratory issues. Austin Pets Alive! allows teens to volunteer with adult supervision. Volunteers must be able to commit to eight hours of volunteer time per month and can help with a variety of tasks, from walking dogs to socializing cats. All the volunteer work is hands-on with the animals to help with socialization and increase their chances of adoption.
Volunteering in Nature
Ecology Action of Texas has a variety of volunteer opportunities in the recycling facility, from sorting items to hands-on processing. Keep Austin Beautiful relies on volunteers for area-wide cleanup projects. Opportunities are available year round and include hands-on cleanups at local parks and trails, as well as helping in the office, answering phones and sorting paperwork. The Trail Foundation provides hands-on trail improvement projects, such as planting, weeding and general cleanup, to the Austin area and needs volunteers for these projects. Teens can help clean up at a local event or help maintain gardens through the Lady Bird Johnson Adopt-a-Garden Program.
Youth2Seniors offers teens the opportunity to work with senior citizens in the community. The program is designed to teach children the importance of volunteering and a respect for the seniors in the Austin area. A teen may be given the task to help coordinate programs such as Lead a Bear H.U.G.s workshop or an art program, or participate directly with a senior, depending on her skills. The Capital Area Food Bank utilizes volunteers to sort donations, assist at special events and serve as ambassadors of the program. Children as young as 8 can volunteer, but children 8 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult.