Dickerson Park Zoo offers programs for adults and teens to share their passion for wildlife with zoo guests. Click on the links below for more information.
Docents assist Dickerson Park Zoo’s Education Department in several capacities on the zoo grounds and in the community with outreach programming. These “volunteer teachers” share their knowledge of the Zoo and support the zoo’s conservation education mission. Docents may be stationed on the zoo grounds to enhance our guests’ zoo visit and help make a connection to nature. Docents may also become an educator in our outreach programming for schools and organizations or assist with various Z.E.B.R.A. classes.
Adults age 18 and older who enjoy working with animals and people are invited to join this committee group of volunteers. No experience is necessary; training is provided. Minimum time commitments and training vary with the position, and some docent positions are limited in availability. Volunteering as a docent involves lifting, carrying and walking somewhat strenuous distances with crated animals and biofacts.
Minimum time requirements: four hours of orientation, 10 hours of training in basic animal knowledge (typically five two-hour sessions on Monday evenings) and 10 hours of instructional shadowing. Docents are expected to complete 50 hours of volunteer time annually to be considered an active volunteer.
Uniform requirement: You must purchase the required shirt and adhere to the dress code as stated in the Dickerson Park Zoo Volunteer Manual. Approved docent shirts range from $15-25 per shirt.
Zoo Ambassadors are enthusiastic and people-oriented volunteers who supplement zoo staff and interact with the public during special events and throughout the summer season. When the zoo hosts an event, it is almost entirely staffed by volunteers. During events Zoo Ambassadors assist at the admission gate, sell or serve concessions and staff activity areas. Throughout the main season, Ambassadors host company picnics and assist zoo staff by monitoring animal feeding stations, selling Friends of the Zoo memberships and offering hands-on biofact encounters.
The Zoo Ambassador program is open to anyone 18 and older (for some events, volunteers must be 21 years old). Most events are on Saturdays, with a few on weekday evenings or Sunday. Volunteering as an Ambassador involves walking throughout the zoo grounds and other physical tasks appropriate to the event or activity. Print an application to be a volunteer (PDF).
Benefits of volunteering at Dickerson Park Zoo
30 service hours per year are required to be an active Zoo Volunteer. In return for their dedication of time and talent, Volunteers receive numerous benefits: free zoo admission, a discount in the Safari Trading Company gift shop and employee prices on food at the Bush Country Café. Active volunteers are invited to the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Volunteers are also eligible for Friends of the Zoo memberships based on their total service hours for the year. In addition, awards for cumulative hours are given. Volunteers who give 250 hours of time and at least five years of service are honored with a name plaque on the Volunteer Wall of Honor.
Youth Volunteer Opportunities
Venturing is a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America. This program is open to males and females who are 13-20 years old and have completed the eighth grade. Venturing at Dickerson Park Zoo will provide fun and enriching experiences to young people by gaining an understanding of the husbandry of exotic animals. The Venture Crew assists zookeepers with daily animal feedings and exhibit cleaning. In addition, we envision this crew taking on the critical role of implementing the zoo’s animal enrichment program. This will include research, development, observation and data entry.
The application period for Fall 2013 is closed. Thank you for your interest in joining our Venture Crew.
ZooTEENS assist Friends of the Zoo’s Education Department in several capacities. ZooTEENS are trained as volunteer teachers to share their knowledge of the natural world through the use of biofacts and up-close animal encounters. As volunteer teachers, ZooTEENS assist education staff with summer ZEBRA classes. ZooTEENS may also assist the education zookeeper with husbandry duties and other zookeepers with behavioral observations.
Please check back in early 2014 for next year’s program.