A legacy of rich, philanthropic culture is one of Sarasota’s defining features, and there are lots of ways to instill that culture of giving back in younger generations and turn summer break into an opportunity for growth. Teens who volunteer grow more responsible and confident when they’re empowered to help others. Plus, they gain skills they’ll use in the job market, like leadership, communication, dependability, time management and decision-making, all while strengthening their résumés and college applications.

Here are 11 possible options:

Prospect Riding Center

Ages: 10 and up

Horse grooming, grounds maintenance and office help are needed at this therapeutic horseback riding center where people with special needs overcome physical, developmental or psychological challenges through the power of horse riding and connecting with nature.

Teen Court of Sarasota

Ages: 12-18

Through this program, kids who get in trouble get a second chance without the burden of criminal charges that may bar lifelong opportunities. Teens gain legal knowledge when they interview defendants, and stand in as attorneys and jurors, putting ethics and civic responsibility into action. 

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity

Ages: 16 and up

Volunteers become part of a team that helps area residents gain affordable housing through building or renovating a home. No knowledge necessary. Teens learn skills they'll never have to YouTube again and empower families by taking part in creating a safe place where they can thrive.

All Faiths Food Bank

Ages: 10 and up

Teens help by sorting and packing food, distributing it at pantries, taking part in cooking classes, helping in the office and lending a hand at events. About half of Sarasota kids in public school qualify for free or reduced lunches during the school year, so when school’s out, food pantries fill the food gap for thousands of area families.

Suncoast Science Center

Ages: 13 and up

Teens teach younger kids hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math programming in summer camps, and bring their innovative designs to life in the lab. They'll use coding, robotics and chemistry in a hands-on setting with like-minded inventors of tomorrow.

Meals on Wheels Sarasota

Ages: 14 and up

Teen volunteers can help with meal preparation, delivery, bagging and all the many tasks it takes to get 400 to 500 meals out the door every day to residents in need.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Ages: 14 and up

Selected students can earn service hour credits required for high school graduation when they act as aquarium guides and interpret exhibits to guests. Recommended for teens interested in pursuing a career in marine science and biology.

Second Chance Last Opportunity

Ages: 14 and up

This nonprofit helps those in need get back on stable footing through free workshops that teach life management skills and offer workforce training, counseling, parenting help and more. Teens help with food distribution, fundraising activities and summer and after-school youth programs.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

Ages: 14-18

Teens learn about health care in the hospital by running errands in a high-paced setting, helping transport people using wheelchairs and helping run the gift shop.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Ages: 13 and up

Surrounded by nature and jaw-dropping orchids and blossoms, teens get dirty and soak in the sun while learning about horticulture through hands-on gardening.

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature 

Ages: 15 and up

Get up close and personal with Florida’s rich natural and cultural history, the environment, manatee conservation and care, and the universe. Teens can volunteer in the planetarium, greet visitors and help with administrative duties and special events.

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