Thank you for a great event! See you in 2024!

The Phoenix Zoo is excited to host its Virtual Teen Career Conference once again, an opportunity for teens to explore many different careers in animal science.

Through specially selected speaker panels, attendees will hear from experts in Zoology, Conservation, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Care working both within the Zoo and in the field. The speakers will offer insights into their career paths and advice on breaking into their respective fields.

Representatives from the Zoo and other scientific and educational institutions from around the Valley will be on hand to offer information about their programs and opportunities for teens to begin working toward their careers right now. Volunteer opportunities, camps and other programs will be highlighted.

Included this year is a professional skill-building workshop designed to offer participants an opportunity to begin resume building and interviewing skills that will benefit their professional knowledge and personal growth.

Event Details


April 1, 2023




9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

You do not need to participate in the entire conference. You may come in and out of the Zoom meeting, attending whatever portions you wish to.


FREE! (Advance Registration is Required!



I have been with the Phoenix Zoo for almost 8 years. I started in the Zoo’s warehouse, before moving into the Nutrition Service department. Over the years, I have strived to improve processes and expand my knowledge of animal nutrition. As a result, I was promoted to Manager of Nutrition Services for the Phoenix Zoo in 2021.  

Dr. Margarita

Dr. Margarita Woc-Colburn is the Director of Animal Health at the Phoenix Zoo. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an MS in Conservation Biology, and from Cornell University with her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2003.  After veterinary school, she completed a one-year small animal medicine and surgery internship at MSPCA Angell Memorial Western New England Animal Hospital, followed by 3 years working in a 24/7 referral critical care and emergency hospital in Seattle, Washington.  In 2010, she completed a 3-year zoo residency at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in conjunction with Oklahoma City Zoo.  She then worked at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere Park for 11 years as the Associate Veterinary and helped to build the new HCA Veterinary Center.   She is currently the veterinary advisor for the Xenarthra Taxon Advisory Group, the Southern Tamandua Species Survival Plan (SSP), and Giant Anteater SSP; and is the Secretary for the Veterinary Advisory Group within the AZA.  She is also part of the Scientific Advisory board for Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and has been helping CCF as a consultant for the cheetahs that have been confiscated from illegal wildlife trade in Somaliland. 


Miquela Ciccarelli (ACNC/Phoenix Zoo) Miquela is a Conservation Technician at the Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Conservation Center at the Phoenix Zoo. In this position, she works with ten native species of conservation need, including breeding for release programs. Additionally, as a Conservation Technician, she participates in fieldwork in partnership with Arizona Game and Fish and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Miquela holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with an emphasis on Conservation Biology & Ecology from Arizona State University. She has a strong interest in aquatic ecosystems and aquatic species conservation. When not at the zoo, Miquela can be found caring for her aquariums at home.   



Kayla Schaid’s passion for art and science started from an early age. Raised in the surrounding suburbs of Chicago, she experienced summers exploring the lakes and prairies of the Midwest and was fascinated by local nature centers and museums. Her endless curiosity to understand the natural world partnered with her love of painting, led her to Iowa State University. There she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biological/ Pre-Medical Illustration with a minor in Anthropology.

Following graduation, Schaid went on to work as an exhibit designer and curator at multiple institutions in the Chicagoland area – The DuPage Children’s Museum, The Midwest Museum of Natural History, and The Field Museum. In addition to developing her spatial design skills and knowledge of unconventional learning, Kayla established her signature painting style. With the use of watercolor and pen and ink, she creates both a realistic yet playful representation of her subjects.

Kayla’s artwork has been displayed across the county in Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, California, and Arizona. With each piece, she strives to spark curiosity and to give a voice to the critters she cares most about. Kayla enjoys gardening, traveling, and volunteering at the Phoenix Zoo. 


Hello! My name is Kaidence and this spring, I will be graduating from Barrett, the Honors College and the School of Life Sciences at ASU with a degree in Conservation Biology and Ecology and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems. I have taken many field classes throughout my college career, including: Sonoran Desert Field Botany, Mammalogy, Entomology, and Ornithology. Last summer I had the opportunity to work as a Conservation and Science Intern with the Phoenix Zoo. Afterward, I obtained another internship partnered with ASU and the Phoenix Zoo to assess camera trap data of jaguars in the Las Alturas Reserve in Costa Rica as a part of my Barrett Honors Thesis. These experiences have taught me how to do field work, animal husbandry, and foundational scientific writing and data analysis. After I graduate, I’m looking forward to starting my career as a wildlife biologist with the Forest Service. 


Kyle Waites is an Arizona native who graduated from Arizona State University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a focus on animal physiology and behavior. His fascination of birds led him to working in a lab at ASU for a couple of years after graduating, where he helped conduct field research on a native sparrow species. Kyle has been a senior bird keeper at the Phoenix Zoo for the past 6 years, pursuing his passion for conservation and preservation of birds. This has led him to be involved in conservation-oriented captive breeding programs through the zoo as well as running his own field research project on a critically endangered bird species in the rainforests of northern Colombia. 


Zaara is a Wildlife biologist and conservation ecologist by education and training. Originally from India, she has more than 13 years of professional experience in the field of Biodiversity management and conservation in three continents – Asia (India), Africa (South Africa) and North America with different Government and Non Government Organizations. She is currently working as the Chronic Wasting Disease Coordinator with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. Zaara has a Master’s degree in Wildlife Science from India and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Environment Sciences with University of South Africa. Beyond her professional life, she’s an avid traveler and foodie and she likes country music and watching movies. 


9 a.m. | Welcome!   

9:15 a.m. | Speaker Panel

10:15 a.m. | BREAK

10:30 a.m. | Second Speaker Panel  

11:30 a.m. | BREAK

11:40 a.m. | Skill-building Workshop

12:10 p.m. | BREAK  

12:15 p.m. | Career Corner

1 p.m. | Zoo Highlight 

1:30 p.m. | Event Concludes